Paul Greengrass has exited the Aaron Sorkin-scripted Chicago 7. This isn’t a shock, but it was roundly denied when we called last week. Greengrass has other projects that include Memphis, the Greengrass-scripted drama about Martin Luther King Jr.’s last days and the manhunt to find his killer. While there are several MLK films percolating, this one has a script that is Oscar-caliber. That picture was originally shelved after Universal Pictures dropped out, and Greengrass instead directed Captain Phillips, the Sony drama that stars Tom Hanks and will open October 11.
UPDATE: I just started vacation but learned that Scott Rudin will produce Chicago 7.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, TUESDAY 2:40 PM: I’ve learned that DreamWorks is finally reviving a once hot project that has barely been touched since its director Steven Spielberg suspended it back in 2008. Conventional wisdom had it that this would be Spielberg’s next Oscar pic. Since then, “every two months it’s been revisited. The title would come up in conversation at production meetings. But it’s just been hanging,” a source tells me. No longer. I’ve learned the studio is moving forward with Paul Greengrass in final talks to direct Aaron Sorkin‘s script The Trial Of The Chicago 7. It’s based on the infamous 1969 federal conspiracy trial arising out of the protesters vs police violent rioting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that transfixed the nation because of its counter-culture and leftist mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.
The modestly budgeted $20M-$30M film will start production probably in January. DreamWorks is funding all development with its financial partners, and Disney will distribute. No casting is in discussion yet because the deal isn’t done for Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Green Zone). His upcoming Captain Phillips biopic starring Tom Hanks about a sea hijacking by Somali pirates has great advance buzz at Sony. Plus, as a former British journalist and filmmaker attracted to true stories, Greengrass sounds like the right director for Chicago 7 and was considered to helm it back in August 2008.