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Coen Brothers Say Their Adaptation Of ‘To The White Sea’ Is Probably Not Coming Back

Coen Brothers Say Their Adaptation Of 'To The White Sea' Is Probably Not Coming Back

The Coen brothers are riding high these days. Their latest, “True Grit,” is already the highest-grossing film of their careers, it continues to rake it in at the box-office and come Tuesday, they’ll probably (hopefully) have a few more Oscar nominations to add to their tally (ten so far). On their never-ending press tour for the film, the Coens recently stopped by the Creative Screenwriting podcast to discuss their latest and some of their other projects including their now famous adaptation of “Deliverance” author James Dickeys‘ novel “To The White Sea.” A WWII adventure pic starring Brad Pitt as an American pilot stranded in China and unable to communicate, the project is infamous among longtime Coen fans for the script’s minimal dialogue but was shelved by the studios because of its $80 million budget. We featured the project as one of Ten Dead Projects We’d Like To See Resurrected but, as you’ve probably already guessed, its future is not looking any brighter.

Even with the duo enjoying their greatest financial success Ethan Coen said that he still didn’t think they could get the film produced. “I don’t think anything will happen with it. I mean we came just short of being able to get money for it and did come up short even with Brad Pitt basically doing it for free.” When asked if there was anything they learned on that adaptation, Joel Coen replied “Yeah, don’t set a movie in Tokyo during the firebombing unless you have lots of money to pay for it. That was the lesson we took away from that.” So it looks like it might be time to let this one go, Coen fans. We’re as sad about it as you are but it just doesn’t look like it’s in the cards. The Coens haven’t officially announced their next project as co-directors but recently penned a remake of the 1966 caper “Gambitpossibly to star Colin Firth (Michael Hoffman is directing). Offers are evidently out to stars Firth has worked with very recently, keep your eyes peeled.

“True Grit,” the Coens’ first four quadrant film, is still in theaters. – Cory Everett

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Neo Sorar

I wonder if this could ever happen if a Japanese person directed it…

Alex Franko

The story takes place in Japan not China.

cosmo vitelli

I buried To The White Sea a long time ago. What I want to know now is whatever happened to their adaptation of Yiddish Policemen’s Union? Are they still holding the rights?


When you consider what Peter Weir achieved with $30mil and Jim Sturgess… oh jesus Sturgess, just give them the $80 million.


I think they made their “man using his hands movie” when they made No Country, but any unmade Coen’s movie is a thing to mourn.

Tom Logan

When you consider what Peter Weir achieved with $30mil on “The Way Back”, you’d think that there would be a way of shooting “To the white sea” and the firebombing sequence with a lesser budget. After that sequence it’s mainly just a man in the wilderness film.

It is a great script (as usual from the Coens), I actually enjoyed it more than the book.

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