According to Variety, the studio has purchased the spec script by Jonny Kurtzman and has tasked producers Lawrence Gordon and Charles Gordon with developing the project. The former Gordon produced the Hellboy films, Die Hard, Watchmen, and Boogie Nights, while the latter produced The Girl Next Door and Hitman.
Kurzman, who wrote several episodes of the children's television series M.I. High, confirmed the news on his official site, saying,
"Recently my feature screenplay Leonardo has been picked up by Universal for Lawrence Gordon to produce. It goes without saying that this is hugely exciting, but in many ways I see it as an extension of what I have been doing in children’s television, except with a much bigger budget to play with."
Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps most famous for his paintings, which include "The Last Supper" and "Mona Lisa." His brilliance extended across the arts and sciences, however, and the Italian inventor's ceaseless mind dabbled in engineering, music, biology, botany, sculpture, math, and all manner of intellectual pursuits. His shockingly prescient engineering schematics for forward-thinking innovations will no doubt allow Leonardo to play with a bunch of high-tech Renaissance gadgetry in the course of the story, which is said to revolve around a young da Vinci's "quest to stop Renaissance Europe from returning to the Dark Ages.'
This isn't the only da Vinci-centric project in the works, as the Starz cable network is developing an eight-episode series titled Da Vinci's Demons. Batman Begins and Blade scribe David Goyer wrote the pilot and acts as showrunner on the series, which follows a young da Vinci and should premiere in 2013.
Sherlock Holmes is the most successful implementation of this idea, and has spawned a whole lot of potential movies in development. While the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is just around the corner, in many ways the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter represents a truer test of the audience's hunger for this sort of mashup history. That film, based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, hits theaters in 3D during the summer of 2012.