Mike Fleming

UPDATE: I’ve learned that Memphis won’t be an impediment to Paul Greengrass directing this Somali pirate movie, so I expect this to move quickly and that this will be the director’s next film.

EARLIER: Director Paul Greengrass and Sony Pictures have moved a step closer to the filmmaker coming aboard to steer the Sony Pictures’ Somali pirate drama to star Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips. Greengrass was among a short list of directors for the gig but I’m told Sony Pictures has just offered him the picture and talks are about to begin. Phillips was the skipper of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama who gave himself up as a hostage to Somali pirates to keep his crew from having to leave the ship with them. After three days of being held hostage alone with the armed pirates in a small lifeboat, Phillips was saved by Navy SEALs who staged a dramatic rescue that left the captain unharmed, three captors dead and another in custody. The film is based on Phillips’ memoir A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, which was published last year by Hyperion. Sony Pictures’ The Social Network team of Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Kevin Spacey are producing. Hanks signed on in March after sparking to a script written by Billy Ray. Elizabeth Cantillon is supervising for Sony Pictures.

Couldn’t get a confirmation this will Greengrass’ next film. The variable seems to be Memphis, a drama about the events leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, but that film was delayed after Universal decided not to move forward. That dashed hopes to get the film done in time to be platformed in late December for Oscars and then opened wide around the MLK holiday weekend. That picture will certainly still happen, the Greengrass script is fantastic; the question is when.

Just as all this juggling is going on, financiers this week have begun mobilizing after they were pitched the Peter Morgan-scripted drama Rush, the drama that focuses on rival race car drivers. Morgan’s script has just begun to be shopped by Greengrass’ CAA reps and Morgan’s UTA reps.

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