Don’t worry if you forgot but way back circa 2008 Paul Greengrass had kicked around the idea of directing the Aaron Sorkin-penned “The Trial Of The Chicago 7.” This was just after Steven Spielberg seriously considered it (Will Smith was tentatively slated to play Bobby Seale, with Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman and Philip Seymour Hoffman as defense lawyer William Kunstler), but it didn’t quite come together. Then Ben Stiller teamed with Sorkin to have a crack at it and they developed it further, but DreamWorks wasn’t willing to pull the trigger on the budget. Well, it seems there’s been a change of heart.
Paul Greengrass is back in the director’s chair and is set to make “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” his next movie. Details and deals are still coming together, but should it all work out, the $20-30 million picture (they still make those?) will tell the true story of the trial that arose following the 1969 clash between protesters and police outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention. While the story contains a variety of colorful characters (see above), it’s also a rich time capsule of a time when the anti-Vietnam War movement was growing, just at as the decade of free love was ending. It’s a powerful tale and it’s easy to see why Greengrass is still interested in it.
There’s no details yet on casting and production is aiming to start in January. But wait a minute, what about Greengrass’ Martin Luther King tale, “Memphis“? It had just landed Forest Whitaker to star in May and fought it’s way back from being binned at Universal to being a viable movie once again. We’ll likely know more soon, but we suspect that perhaps it was still proving to be a tricky project to mount and with the former Lee Daniels MLK flick “Selma” moving forward with a new director, Ava DuVernay, Greengrass just thought it better to let his movie go.
Either way, ‘Chicago 7’ is some pretty great subject material even if it has been told in a handful of previous movies, notably the 1987 TV movie “Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8,” the partially animated “Chicago 10” and “The Chicago 8.” Check out that first film in full below. [Deadline]