The writing was on the wall years ago when Ethan Coen, during press rounds for “True Grit,” made it clear that the Coen Brothers’ long brewing adaptation of James Dickey‘s “To The White Sea” was likely off the table. “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,” he said. The WWII adventure movie follows an air gunner shot down over Tokyo, unable to communicate due to unfamiliarity with the language, embarking on a dangerous and demanding journey back to Alaska.
Essentially, it sounds like budget reasons (perhaps coupled with the fact that proposed star Brad Pitt didn’t have much in the way of actual dialogue in the finished script) kiboshed the project. “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,” Joel Coen quipped, about their version which would’ve reportedly cost around $80 million dollars. However, it looks like Hollywood is going to take another crack at it.
THR reports that Warner Bros. now has the rights to Dickey’s book with Roy Lee, Jon Berg, and John Middleton all slated to produce. The Coens’ script will be scrapped, with the plan to start all over again with a new writer and director.
Either way, while it’s a shame we don’t get to see what the Coens would’ve done with the material, it’s a story that’s big screen built. It’ll be interesting to see how it eventually evolves.