Pacino, who is currently playing Herod in Oscar Wilde's Salome on Broadway, has shown a continuing fascination with Shakespeare. His 1996 movie, "Looking for Richard," concerned his wrestling match with the role of Richard III. He also directed the feature. The new flick is financed at $25 to $30 million. Michael Radford will direct and Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen and Joseph Fiennes are being considered for roles.
Brokaw told Variety, "Shakespeare's story of conflict and religious persecution has a tremendous contemporary resonance." The Merchant of Venice has been filmed several times for the screen, though no version has established itself as a classic. A New Zealand production, titled "Te tangata whai rawa o weneti," was completed in early 2001.