No decision has been made yet. But studio sources say it “looks likely” that Sony Pictures, which had scheduled its hunt-for-bin Laden film for release October 12th, is moving it to later in 2012 or into 2013. That puts it after the 2012 election and ensures that the film won’t become a so-called “October surprise” and boost President Obama’s re-election chances by reminding voters that his administration caught and killed the al-Qaeda leader. Doubtful this will quiet all the partisan political talk in Washington and Hollywood about the Mark Boal-Kathryn Bigelow film.
U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen has dismissed a lawsuit against the filmmakers behind Oscar Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker that alleged they improperly used the likeness of an actual soldier, Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver. Sarver filed the suit before the Oscars, claiming screenwriter Mark Boal based the film — and its lead character, played by Jeremy Renner — on him and presented him in a false light. Today, Nguyen disagreed, saying “the value of The Hurt Locker unquestionably derived from the creativity and skill of the writers, directors, and producers who conceived, wrote, directed, edited, and produced it.”
Boal was embedded in Sarver’s unit in 2004 and wrote about him and other bomb-disposal experts in Playboy magazine, a story that became the basis for the film. Said Boal today: “The Hurt Locker was inspired by many soldiers I met and interviewed during my time reporting in Iraq and elsewhere. It was a disservice to all of those other soldiers for Sgt. Sarver to claim that he was the only soldier that was the basis for the hero of the film.”
The lawyer for Sarver, who was ordered to pay the defendant’s attorneys’ fees, said they will appeal the ruling.
BREAKING: New York-based congressman Peter King has called for an investigation into the Obama Administration’s cooperation with the untitled movie that The Hurt Locker’s Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are making about Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt and eventual kill of 9/11 terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. The request came after a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd reporting that the film — which was acquired at auction by Sony Pictures before a script was completed — received cooperation and help in describing a mission that was classified. The filmmakers have just released the following statement:
“Our upcoming film project about the decade long pursuit of Bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world’s most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic, and non-partisan and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.” Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.
Sony Pictures has dated the untitled movie from The Hurt Locker team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal on the Navy SEAL Team 6 and its methodical hunt to kill Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. The picture will open Oct. 12, and the studio is using a strategy similar to the one employed on The Social Network, which also launched early in October.
When bin Laden was killed, Boal and Bigelow were well along on a project called Killing Bin Laden, about the so-far unsuccessful attempt to kill the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks. It immediately became the hottest project in town, and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Films banner agreed to fund the film. Buyers materialized during the Cannes Film Festival even as Boal was rewriting the script to reflect a most satisfying third act. Deadline broke news around that time that Sony signed on as distributor. They’ve kept details close to the vest even as thesps like Warrior’s Joel Edgerton were rumored to be taking part.
Theater Owners Fight Premium VOD In Canada, As Chris Nolan, Quentin Tarantino And Others Join Outcry
In a keynote speech at industry confab ShowCanada, NATO President & CEO John Fithian today urged Canadian movie theater operators to be vigilant in their focus on theatrical release windows. Challenging a recently announced proposal from four Hollywood studios to release movies early to the home on “premium” VOD, Fithian explained the dangers of the model. “Early VOD releases to the home could damage the movie industry in two significant ways,” Fithian asserted. “Early releases will reduce movie ticket sales, and will exacerbate movie theft by giving pirates an early pristine copy of movies.” Fithian also reiterated NATO’s call for the participating studios to release sales data from their experiment. “How can the industry evaluate the studios’ test if they continue to hide the facts.”
Fithian’s remarks at ShowCanada marked an expanded, global phase in NATO’s work to preserve the theatrical release window. Beginning with Canada this week, moving to Europe later in the month and onto Australia in August, Fithian will hold dozens of meetings with leading international exhibitors on the topic. “We hope that this early VOD experiment begins and ends in the U.S.,” Fithian continued. “But if not, we want exhibitors everywhere to be prepared.”
The Walt Disney Co. has reversed course and withdrawn its applications to trademark SEAL Team 6, the name of the elite Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Navy filed its own applications for rights to “SEAL Team” and “Navy SEALs” about a week after Disney, with a Navy spokesman saying, “We are fully committed to protecting our trademark rights.” A Disney spokesman said the company was withdrawing “out of deference to the Navy.” Disney planned to use the trademark to sell merchandise and, according to a WSJ source, develop a show based on the Navy unit for ABC.
Bin Laden’s death has sparked action on several projects related to the former Al-Qaeda leader. Deadline has already reported that Sony Pictures is close to a deal to distribute a project from The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal about the raid that killed bin Laden, and also that Universal is prepping a Navy SEAL movie from Peter Berg, an adaptation of Marcus Luttrell’s Afghanistan War memoir Lone Survivor.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Sony Pictures is negotiating to acquire U.S. distribution rights to the untitled Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt for Osama bin Laden. Mark Boal, Bigelow’s partner on the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, is finalizing a script that changes the film from a drama about an unsuccessful attempt to hunt the Al Qaeda leader into a methodical hunt that culminates in his death. The film is being fully financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Production will start in the early fall and the pic will be ready for release in 2012.
Deadline pegged the Bigelow-Boal film — formerly titled Killing Bin Laden – as a potentially hot project the night that President Barack Obama interrupted programming to announce that the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center had finally been located and killed. It most certainly has worked out that way. The project was far along at this point, and they were talking to actors like Joel Edgerton even before bin Laden was killed. Sony’s Amy Pascal has been aggressive about the film since that night, and the studio and others heard the pitch from Boal right before buyers headed off to the Cannes Film Festival.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow in recent weeks has been preparing and starting to cast an indie movie with the working title Kill Bin Laden, while another movie project about the hunt for the Al Queda terrorist leader at a major Hollywood studio stalled back in 2006. Given tonight’s startling news, it’s clear that these may be the timeliest film projects in recent Hollywood history. And judging from tonight’s showbiz phone calls coming into Deadline about Osama bin Laden’s death, I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie studios are anxious to bring these projects to the big screen as soon as possible, updated with the details behind tonight’s successful military mission. Have you seen those spontaneous cheering crowds that formed tonight outside Washington DC’s White House and in NYC’s Times Square as well as around major American cities and small towns? If a patriotic film about this story can tap into these feelings of first helpless horror and then widespread frustration and then successful closure, it could be a real winner at the box office.
Bigelow and Mark Boal, her collaborator on The Hurt Locker, have been mobilizing their film to go into production as their follow-up to that Best Picture Academy Award winner. Their movie as planned was based on an earlier unsuccessful mission to try to kill the Al Qaeda leader responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack on America as he hid in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But now they’ve certainly got a celebratory ending to that dramatic story with tonight’s announcement that the U.S. conducted a military operation that killed Bin Laden. Mind you, reps for Bigelow have told me previously that this movie isn’t specifically about the Al Qaeda leader. A lot of details about this film are stilll sketchy and secret, but I’ve heard that Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle chief Larry Ellison, is ready to fund it. I heard as recently as Friday that Bigelow and Boal were courting Joel Edgerton for the lead actor. Edgerton had been on the short list for two Universal Pictures movie projects in the works, The Bourne Legacy and Snow White And The Huntsman.
Meanwhile, back in 2006, Paramount Pictures optioned Jawbreaker, a book by U.S. intelligence operative Gary Berntsen about the December 2001 American-led military mission to hunt and kill Bin Laden right during the opening stages of the 9/11-prompted invasion of Afghanistan that the author as the CIA pointman had helped coordinate with Special Operations Forces. The heavily vetted book detailed how close those forces came to finding and executing Bin Laden in the rugged mountains of Tora Bora until they were pulled back after a decision was made to let Pakistan tribal leaders lead the search — a decision experts felt helped Bin Laden get away. The studio hired The Path To 9/11 scribe Cyrus Nowrasteh
EXCLUSIVE: The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal and Management 360 have partnered with financier/producer Megan Ellison to option The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, an article about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in The New York Times Magazine written by the newspaper’s executive editor Bill Keller. Ellison, an exec producer of True Grit, will finance the film through her Annapurna Pictures and she, Boal and Management 360 will produce. Boal might write the film, but that will depend on if he has time. In addition to the Kathryn Bigelow-directed Triple Frontier with Tom Hanks, Boal is collaborating with Bigelow on a drama that might go sooner, about a secret Middle East mission movie. If Boal is going to write the Assange script, he will have to do it quickly.
His is just the latest in a growing number of Julian Assange/WikiLeaks movies that should continue to swell as more books about the controversial figure get published. I’ve heard DreamWorks is circling Inside WikiLeaks, a book that will be released February 15. It is written by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange’s number 2 at WikiLeaks who defected because he wanted WikiLeaks to apply journalistic discretion in the dispersal of secret government documents while Assange wanted to release as many as he could get his hands on.
There is also the $1.5 million memoir by Assange. Movie/TV rights will be handled by CAA for lit agency …
EXCLUSIVE: Director Kathryn Bigelow is courting Johnny Depp to star with Tom Hanks in Triple Frontier, the drama that she will direct in February for Paramount Pictures. The picture (also known as Sleeping Dogs) set in the organized crime haven that exists in the border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, has five main roles, but I’m told there are two major leads in the drama scripted by Mark Boal, Bigelow’s accomplice on the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. Depp likes the role – and the idea of teaming with Hanks — but his participation is subject to working out scheduling issues. Depp is preparing to start work also in February as Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows for Warner Bros and director Tim Burton, who has a script he likes from Seth Grahame-Smith, whose book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter just got set up at Fox (with Burton producing). Depp’s production company is producing Dark Shadows with Graham King, so this pic is a priority. But Triple Frontier is shaping up to be a hot-button prestige project and everyone will try over the next two weeks to make it possible for him to do both. Boal and Bigelow are producing with Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven. Depp is repped by UTA’s Tracey Jacobs.
EXCLUSIVE: After the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are aiming high in casting their follow-up, the Paramount Pictures drama set in South America, Triple Frontier (aka Sleeping Dogs). I’m hearing that while he hasn’t committed, Tom Hanks is looking seriously at one of the pic’s lead roles. The story is set in the organized crime haven that exists in the border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven are producing with Boal and Bigelow. Grant Hill is exec producer. Since the film starts production early next year, the ensemble — there are five primary roles – will come together quickly. Insiders say no offer has been made yet, but Hanks and Bigelow are talking. Hanks next stars with Sandra Bullock in the Stephen Daldry-directed adaptation of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close for Paramount and Warner Bros.