In Tinseltown, everything comes in twos. Two Truman Capote biopics. Two Snow White adaptations. Two Nelson Mandela flicks. Two Franco brothers.
Now, according to a report by Deadline, Hollywood is planning two competing films on the cinematic saga of recently freed POW Bowe Bergdahl. The first news came Monday afternoon, when the site announced that director Kathryn Bigelow and writer/producing partner Mark Boal, the team (and former couple) behind Oscar winners The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, are “in the early planning stage” on a Middle East-set film based on the story of Bergdahl, the Army sergeant—and rumored deserter—who was captured by the Taliban after leaving his base in Afghanistan, held prisoner for five years, and then released when President Obama brokered a deal to swap the POW for five senior Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay prison. The Bigelow/Boal Bergdahl film is reportedly being set up at Boal’s Page One production company with financial backing from Annapurna Pictures, the shingle owned by Megan Ellison that was responsible for the filmmaking pair’s two other collaborations, as well as recent movies Her and American Hustle.
And if Bigelow and Boal’s last collaboration is any indication, their Bergdahl movie should court plenty of controversy. Prior to the release of 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, their film chronicling the CIA’s decade-long manhunt for 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, it was panned in the New York Times by Frank Bruni, who took issue with the depictions of CIA torture in the film. “I’m betting that Dick Cheney will love the new movie Zero Dark Thirty,” wrote Bruni in his hatchet job.
Later, Sen. John McCain joined with Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to pen a public letter to Michael Lynton, the chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures, which distributed Zero Dark Thirty, decrying it as “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the capture [of Osama bin Laden].” Despite being the best-reviewed film of 2012, and receiving five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress, the film only took home the prize for Best Sound Editing. Meanwhile, a Senate report in March of this year concluded that torture did not play any role in the capture and death of OBL.
The other planned Bergdahl film being plotted is set up at indie distributor Fox Searchlight, who reportedly acquired the late Michael Hastings’ investigative story on the captured Army sgt., America’s Last Prisoner of War, which was published in Rolling Stone. Deadline is claiming that Todd Field, the Oscar nominated filmmaker behind critical darlings In the Bedroom, Far From Heaven, and Little Children, is connected to that project.
Recently, Sen. John McCain assailed the Obama administration for its decision to exchange the five senior Taliban commanders at Gitmo for Bergdahl, calling it “ill-fated” and a “mistake.” We’ll see what he has to say about these two films.
In the meantime, we can all watch reruns of Homeland.