For whatever reason, this one escaped our noticed, but last spring the LA Times reported that Mike Newell was developing a WWII film, “Agent Zizag.” Well, not much else has been heard since then, but there is now fresh movement on the project.
Deadline reports that Rowan Joffe, who recently made his feature film debut with “Brighton Rock,” has been hired on to pen the film. Based on the book by Ben MacIntrye, the based-on-a-true-story tale centers on a double agent who worked for both Germany and Britain during the war. Sounds like some crackerjack material; here’s the full synopsis from Amazon:
London Times associate editor Macintyre (The Man Who Would Be King) adroitly dissects the enigmatic World War II British double agent Eddie Chapman in this intriguing and balanced biography. Giving little thought to the morality of his decision, Chapman offered to work as a spy for the Germans in 1940 after his release from an English prison in the Channel Islands, then occupied by the Germans. After undergoing German military intelligence training, Chapman parachuted into England in December 1942 with instructions to sabotage a De Havilland aircraft factory, but he surrendered after landing safely. Doubled by MI5 (the security service responsible for counterespionage), Chapman was used to feed vital disinformation to the enemy and was one of the few double agents to delude their German handlers until the end of the war. Meticulously researched—relying extensively on recently released wartime files of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service—Macintyre’s biography often reads like a spy thriller. In the end, the author concludes that Chapman repeatedly risked his life… [and] provided invaluable intelligence, but it was never clear whether he was on the side of the angels or the devils.
The project is set up at Tom Hanks‘ shingle Playtone, and Joffe is taking over scripting duties from Newell who was working with Mark Bomback (“Race To Witch Mountain“) when the project was set up at New Line.
No word yet on when this will lens, but considering it still needs a script it’s likely a bit of a way off. But Newell won’t be sitting around twiddling his thumbs as he recently signed on to direct an adaptation of “Great Expectations.”