Those of us who have grown up having electricity our entire lives generally don’t think too much about the particulars of how the lights go on. There was a time, before everything was standardized and the limits of what electricity could do for us was known, where the world watched as the specifics of how best to harness electrical energy was bitterly debated, however. The basic argument was between direct current, where energy always flows in one direction between positive and negative terminals, and alternating current, where the direction of an electrical current reverses 50 or 60 times a second, depending on whether you’re in Europe or the United States. Sounds boring, right? Maybe not.
The Weinstein Company seems to think that there’s a way to present the electricity debates of the late 1800s as a dramatic feature that would keep even modern, celebrity gossip-obsessed audiences engaged, because they’ve just put some money behind a Black List script by Michael Mitnick called The Current War that covers this very topic, and it looks like this is a project that they want to put on the fast track to production.
Before you scoff at the idea of throwing a bunch of money and resources at a movie about scientific debates, know that this was the issue that eventually led to Thomas Edison publicly electrocuting an elephant to death. Yeah, things escalated quickly.
The basic story, from THR, is that director Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) bought the rights to this script last year with the hopes that he would direct it, and while that’s no longer the case, he does intend to stay attached to the project as a producer. He’s now bringing in The Weinstein Company to help fund the whole thing, and they’re so excited about getting this one going that they’re already meeting with a bunch of new directors to come on board and put it together—including a guy you may have heard of named Ben Stiller.
The two main characters of the film would be the credited inventor of the lightbulb and staunch DC supporter, Thomas Edison, and entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse, who fought bitterly to get AC systems in place when the world was going electric. The resources these guys threw at each other and the underhanded tricks they pulled to get their way have become the thing of legend, so this is a story that should be able to provide filmgoers with plenty of drama, no matter how numb we’ve become to boring talk about the particulars of how things work.