Since coming across the reference to the first Legend of Tarzan script being based on Return of Tarzan and Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar, I’ve been scratching around trying to get back to Day 1 of the project, at least as far as the writing goes, and I think I’ve found it. In 2003, Jerry Weintraub hired John August to write the first draft of Weintraub’s Tarzan project, which he would nurture all the way from the early 2000’s until the film was fully in the can and Weintraub tragically died on July 6, 2015.
I’m pretty sure the very first mention of the writing of the project is in Variety’s June 28, 2003 edition, which reports that John August, of the Charlie’s Angels movies, had been hired for “a substantal seven figure sum” to pen a Tarzan movie for Jerry Weintraub and Warner Brothers.
“I am thrilled to have a great writer like John August on this project,” says Weintraub in the Variety piece. “He’s going to give us a totally fresh look at the Tarzan legend.”
August claimed that his own fan status dated to the 1970’s animated series. He is quoted as saying Tarzan “feels like an enduring cultural myth like Hercules or Robin Hood . . . The movie versions of Tarzan always portray him as a sort of jungle hippie. . . . Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan is a much different character. He’s more ferocious and wild, like Wolverine without the claws. That’s the version we want to use.”
August’s Tarzan will also feature a new Jane. “Our Jane is a modern, educated and very not-helpless woman,” he said. “She plays a big part in the movie.”