Filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra is moving into the historical drama realm for an upcoming project. The director behind reliable action fare like Orphan and the Liam Neeson-fronted Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night has signed on to direct Waco for Annapurna Pictures and Page 1, which will recount the 1993 standoff between the FBI and Texas law enforcement against the Branch Davidians. Working on a tip that the cult had assembled a weapons stockpile, law enforcement tried to breach their compound unsuccessfully, leading to a 51-day standoff that ended when cult leader David Koresh ordered his followers to set the building ablaze. In the end 76 people were killed, including both cult members and law enforcement.
The film has a certain degree of prestige to it. Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty scribe Mark Boal penned the screenplay alongside Marc Haimes, who co-wrote Kubo and the Two Strings. Annapurna, the studio behind films like The Master, Her, and American Hustle, is just carving out its own distribution arm, which will kick off with Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit this August, so Waco seems to be a curious play for the studio—especially with Collet-Serra at the helm.
Collet-Serra is coming off the smashing success of his Blake Lively contained thriller The Shallows, and has carved out a niche for himself helming dark, moody thrillers. Waco will likely mark the biggest scale project of his career thus far, but he was previously attached to helm the live-action Akira at Warner Bros. before that fell through. He most recently reteamed with Neeson a fourth time on the upcoming The Commuter.
Annapurna is also in a bit of a competition, as a limited series TV version of the Waco events is already in production with Taylor Kitsch playing David Koresh and Michael Shannon co-starring. That project has Devil and No Escape filmmaker John Erick Dowdle at the helm.
It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out, and to see what a Jaume Collet-Serra-directed historical drama looks like. I’m definitely intrigued.