EARLIER: Angelina Jolie’s next directorial project, “Unbroken,” will shoot in Australia, with filming in New South Wales and Queensland. Both states will provide funding to the film.
The production will use the Village Roadshow Studios, as well as the water tank in Gold Coast, Queensland. (The film, based on Lauren Hillenbrand’s novel of the same title, focuses on real-life war hero Lou Zamperini — to be played by Jack O’Connell — who survived for 47 days in the Pacific Ocean after a plane crash in 1943.)
EARLIER: Garrett Hedlund (“On the Road,” “TRON: Legacy”) has joined the cast of Angelina Jolie’s next directorial project, “Unbroken.” He will star alongside Jack O’Connell (“Skins”) in the tale of real-life war hero Lou Zamperini. Roger Deakins is on board as the film’s cinematographer.
Meanwhile, Joel and Ethan Coen have been working on the latest pass of the script, which is adapted from the Lauren Hillenbrand book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival Resilience and Redemption.”
Per Variety, Hedlund was aggressively pursuing the lead role of Zamperini, but when it went to O’Connell, he was still very interested in being part of the film in some way. No details yet on Hedlund’s role. (Hedlund can be seen in the Coens’ upcoming “Inside Llewyn Davis.”)
Angelina Jolie has cast her leading man in her upcoming film for Universal, “Unbroken.” Jack O’Connell (best known from the Brit TV series “Skins”) will play real-life war hero Lou Zamperini, whose Air Force plane crashed in the Pacific in 1943. He miraculously survived with no food or water for 47 days, fending off shark attacks and aerial bombardment before being taken as a prisoner of war for two years.
Universal is on an upswing. Not only have they released two of the hottest summer titles, “Fast & Furious 6” and “Despicable Me 2,” and landed the Legendary deal (see below), but the studio is are also announcing a late September 2013 start date and an awards-friendly North American release slot of December 25, 2014 for “Unbroken,” Angelina Jolie’s follow-up to her 2011 directing debut “In The Land of Blood and Honey.”
The pricey project is an adaptation of “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” author Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” about Louis Zamperini, a 1936 Olympian runner who became a prisoner of war during World War II. After his plane crashed in 1942, he and another crew mate survived on a raft for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Zamperini is now 96.
The book has sat atop The New York Times bestseller list for more than 135 consecutive weeks and is the sixth best-selling nonfiction title ever since the list began in 1942. It was also the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction. The story has been In development for over half a century–and became more expensive when Joel and Ethan Coen came on for an overhaul of the script written by A-listers William Nicholson (“Les MIserables”) and Richard LaGravenese (HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra”). Jolie came on board to direct in December 2012.
She was so moved by Zamperini’s story that she “immediately began to fight for the opportunity to make this film,” she has said. “Louie is a true hero and a man of immense humanity, faith and courage. I am deeply honored to have the chance to tell his inspiring story.”
Jolie will produce with Matthew Baer (“City by the Sea”) and Erwin Stoff (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”); they have assembled an top-notch creative team led by ten-time Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins (“Skyfall”), who comes aboard as director of photography, and Jon Hutman (“In the Land of Blood and Honey”), who reteams with Jolie as the film’s production designer. Mick Garris and David Crockett serve as executive producers.
Meanwhile the long in-the-works deal between Universal Pictures and Legendary Entertainment is official. They have sealed a multi-year film partnership. The two companies will produce and co-finance Legendary and Universal films with Universal distributing Legendary films worldwide. Universal, which is on a hot streak, offers Legendary many potential opportunities, including theme parks and television, an arena that Legendary is moving into (like everyone else).
Legendary leaves Warner Bros. after eight years, and brings its expertise in the big-budget fanboy action universe; the company worked clsoely with Chris Nolan on the “Dark Knight” trilogy and “Inception,” as well as “Man of Steel.” Recent films include the third installment of the “Hangover” series and Guillermo del Toro’s giant monster fest “Pacific Rim,” which opens Friday, with “300: Rise of an Empire” due later this summer. Universal will market, co-finance and distribute Legendary films for five years beginning in 2014. Legendary also has a valuable deal with China Film Group.