Angelina Jolie To Direct ‘Unbroken’, The Incredible Story Of Lou Zamperini

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 6:19pm PST
Mike Fleming

Angelina Jolie UnbrokenEXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Walden Media are in final negotiations with Angelina Jolie to direct Unbroken, the unbelievable story of Olympian-turned-WWII POW Louis Zamperini. The project, which Universal has developed for going on 55 years, is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing and Mick Garris is exec producer.

For Jolie, this will mark her second film as director after she made her debut on In The Land Of Blood And Honey. This will be her first directing outing on a major studio film. It’s easy to imagine that the world’s biggest female star gets whatever she wants, but I’m told that she campaigned hard for the film against a number of other directors. Universal execs were very impressed with her sophisticated treatment of difficult subject matter. Her detailed take on Zamperini won her this job.

“In her life and in her work, Angelina has embraced stories and causes involving great struggle and triumph over tremendous odds and the basic human condition,” Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley said in a statement. “She has a real ability to illustrate the strength in human spirit which will be essential in telling Lou’s story of survival and great heroism.”

The film has a new script draft by Gladiator and Les Miserables co-writer William Nicholson, who rewrote an earlier draft by Richard LaGravanese. The script is based on Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, the book by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for over 108 straight weeks. Read More »

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Walden Media Set To Co-Finance Louis Zamperini Film ‘Unbroken’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After more than 54 years of trying, Universal Pictures is getting closer and closer to telling the unbelievable story of Olympian-turned-WWII POW Louis Zamperini in a feature film. Walden Media has just signed on to co-finance with Universal Pictures the screen adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. The Water for Elephants team of screenwriter Richard LaGravenese and director Francis Lawrence are prepping the story about the unbreakable spirit of Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing; Lawrence and Mick Garris are exec producers.

Universal bought Zamperini’s rights back in the 1950s, when Tony Curtis planned to play him right after he completed Spartacus. Zamperini, still kicking at age 93, has waited all this time to see his story turned into a feature film. Baer has been pushing the ball up the hill for more than a decade, but it turned out that the best thing to happen to the project was Hillenbrand’s book, which has drawn a fresh audience to Zamperini’s story of perseverence. Universal previously turned Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit into the Gary Ross-directed hit. In book form, Unbroken blew past Seabiscuit‘s sales figures in its first four weeks, and has been at or near the top of The New York Times bestseller list since its publication six months ago. Read More »

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Richard LaGravenese To Adapt Lou Zamperini Survival Tale ‘Unbroken’ From Laura Hillenbrand Book

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Richard LaGravenese to adapt Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Francis Lawrence is attached to direct the film about the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards.

LaGravenese will be working for the second straight time with Lawrence on a book adaptation. The scribe adapted the Sara Gruen novel Water For Elephants into the drama that Lawrence directed for Fox 2000 with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz starring. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing Unbroken. Lawrence and Mick Garris are exec producers.

The studio acquired Unbroken after previously turning Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit into the Gary Ross-directed hit. Unbroken, which has been at or near the top of The New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks, outsold Seabiscuit in its first four weeks. It also gave momentum to a movie about Zamperini, something Universal first tried to make in 1957, when the studio optioned his rights for a movie that was going to star Tony Curtis. Read More »

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Universal Buys Laura Hillenbrand WWII Bestseller ‘Unbroken’ For Francis Lawrence

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired screen rights to Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling new book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The studio is in talks with Francis Lawrence to direct, and wants Crazy Heart helmer Scott … Read More »

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