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Francis Lawrence Out, Angelina Jolie In To Direct WWII Film ‘Unbroken’

Francis Lawrence Out, Angelina Jolie In To Direct WWII Film 'Unbroken'

This fall, Francis Lawrence suddenly got very busy. Not only is the director helming “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” he locked himself in for the final two movies of the franchise, parts one and two of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.” This effectively means he’s busy with the series right through to the end of 2015, which means that the handful of projects he’d been linked to, some of those are going to fall by the wayside. And indeed, one of them has, but it’s been picked up by a very big name.

Angelina Jolie is getting ready to follow up with her feature debut “In The Land Of Blood And Honey” with another wartime true story in “Unbroken,” that was originally slated for Lawrence back at the beginning of 2011. Based on “Seabiscuit” writer Laura Hillenbrand‘s bestseller “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” the film will tell the amazing story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian who endured unbelievable hardship while a Japanese POW during WWII. He was subjected to medical experiments, slave labor, and brutal beatings and became the target of one sadistic guard in particular, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, whose goal it was to break Zamperini. The athlete endured his harsh punishment right though until the end of the war, but the lingering effects were still felt. He routinely had terrifying nightmares, suffered alcoholism and on the verge of losing everything, he found God and forgave his captors, even traveling to Japan to forgive them in person (though Watanabe refused to meet him).

The decades in the making of movie, that is set up at Universal, now has a script from William Nicholson (“Les Miserables,” “Gladiator“) who took the first draft by Richard LaGravanese over the finish line. Jolie, who apparently campaigned for the movie and beat out some other directors who wanted the gig, will do a pass on the script, and then start work on it, with production aiming to start next year. This is a big leap for Jolie, whose ‘Blood And Honey’ was a smaller scale indie venture, while this will clearly be on a much larger canvas. But it sounds like the kind of thing that can be a homerun if done right, and no doubt Jolie is preparing hard. So we’ll keep an eye on this, but it looks like directing wasn’t just a one-off lark for Jolie. [Deadline]

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