If there’s one thing that can be said about director Paul Greengrass, it’s how engaging he can be during interviews. His upcoming film, “Captain Phillips,” has been getting great buzz (read our review), and after years of only being asked Bourne-related questions, it must be refreshing for him to finally get the chance to talk about something else. In yet another engaging interview, this time with The Huffington Post, Greengrass not only talks about his latest movie, he also gives us more clarification as to why he dropped out of “The Trial of Chicago 7.”
The long-developing project is one Greengrass eyed as far back as 2008 and recommitted to earlier this summer before dropping out once again. Based on a true story of a trial that arose after a clash between protesters and police outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the film boasts a script by Aaron Sorkin and certainly a rich, dramatic premise, but as Greengrass explains, he couldn’t find a way into the material, or “render the scale of the event” for a wide audience. Here’s his full explanation and view on ‘Chicago 7’:
I’ll tell you why. Well, Dreamworks asked me in the summer and I really would love to work with Steven Spielberg … and Aaron Sorkin had written a great screenplay. But, I felt that there have been other versions of that serial done. It’s from “Chicago 10,” what it’s based on, which is part animation. And I felt when I watched the animation — that was really the true reason, to be honest. And I thought it was a really good film. I felt that it was left sort of challenged, for me, to kind of redo something that had already been animated.
Then there was the whole issue of — which is sort of another related problem — that film essentially tells the story with animation, then a huge and beautifully compiled series of archived material that sort of takes you through the four days of the Chicago demonstrations that lead into the riot and that final night. That archive material is magnificent and when I looked into how in today’s cinema economics, for a film that’s not going to find a wide audience — it’s essentially a niche film; a very interesting niche film — how are you going to render the scale of that event? You find that you can get yourself into a place where you really want to do a film, but you can’t really be confident that you can do it comfortably within a budget. You know, that you’re all comfortable with — it’s not like you’re on an opposite side; you’re actually on the same side. But you kind of look at it and you go, actually, given the sort of filmmaker I am, I don’t think this is going to work.
So it seems a variety factors: creative approach, budget and the existence of an already fine previous film on the same topic ultimately killed Greengrass’ involvement. And so the development wheel will keeping spinning on this. Anyone you think might be a good choice to take over the project?