Production Begins on George Clooney’s THE MONUMENTS MEN Starring Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, and Bill Murray

     March 5, 2013

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Production has commenced on George Clooney’s fifth feature directorial effort, the action-thriller The Monuments Men.  The Columbia Pictures/20th Century Fox co-production tells the true story of an unlikely World War II platoon made up of museum directors, curators, and art historians tasked by FDR with going into Germany and rescuing artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves before they are lost forever.  Clooney directs, stars in, and produces the film alongside his Smokehouse Productions partner Grant Heslov, with whom he also co-wrote the script.  Moreover, Clooney has assembled a truly remarkable cast that includes Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, John Goodman, and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey).

Unfortunately Daniel Craig is not listed as part of the cast in the official press release, so it appears that he may have dropped out of the film.  Hit the jump for more, including the full press release.

monuments-men-book-coverEven if Clooney and Heslov weren’t just coming off a Best Picture win (they produced Argo), this film would still be a major player in this year’s coming awards race.  More importantly, though, Monuments Men just sounds like a hell of a good time.  Clooney reunites with composer Alexandre Desplat and director of photography Phedon Papamichael (The Ides of March) on the pic, which has a pretty long production schedule planned.

Filming will take place in Germany and the United Kingdom through the end of June, at which point Clooney moves right into starring in Brad Bird’s mysterious project TomorrowlandThe Monuments Men hits theaters on December 18, 2013.  Read the full press release below.

BERLIN, Ger., March 5, 2013 – Columbia Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox announced today that The Monuments Men, a Smokehouse production directed by and starring George Clooney, has started production in Berlin, Germany.  The action-thriller is written by Clooney & Grant Heslov, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter.  Clooney and Heslov also produce the film through their Smokehouse Productions.  It is their first production since winning the Academy Award® for Best Picture for their work on Argo.  Barbara A. Hall is executive producer. The Monuments Men is a co-production with Germany’s Siebente Babelsberg Film GmbH, a subsidiary of Studio Babelsberg AG.  Charlie Woebcken, Christoph Fisser and Henning Molfenter serve as co-producers.  Sony Pictures will release the film domestically, with Twentieth Century Fox handling international territories.

The all-star cast includes Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and John Goodman.

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners.  It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed?  But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

Clooney’s crew on The Monuments Men includes director of photography Phedon Papamichael, ASC, Oscar®-nominated production designer Jim Bissell, Academy Award®-winning editor Stephen Mirrione, A.C.E., costume designer Louise Frogley, and five-time Oscar® nominated composer Alexandre Desplat.

The Monuments Men continues filming in Germany and the United Kingdom through the end of June.  It is scheduled for domestic release on December 18, 2013.

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