Paul Greengrass in Talks to Direct Aaron Sorkin’s THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

     July 23, 2013


Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s film about the 1968 Democratic National Convention may finally be coming to fruition.  Deadline reports that Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93) is in final talks to direct The Trial of the Chicago 7, which chronicles the trial surrounding seven defendants who were arrested following protests that took place in Chicago during the Democratic Convention in 1968.  Sorkin wrote the screenplay back in 2008 for director Steven Spielberg, with the intention that this would be Spielberg’s next “Oscar” film after wrapping Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Sacha Baron Cohen was in line to play Abbie Hoffman in the pic and Spielberg was considering Will Smith, Heath Ledger, Kevin Spacey, and Philip Seymour Hoffman for other roles, but after multiple delays due to the Writers Strike and the Screen Actors Guild strike, Spielberg eventually dropped the project.

Now it appears that Chicago 7 is finally resurfacing, with the politically savvy Greengrass at the helm.  Hit the jump for more.

chicago-7After Spielberg departed The Trial of the Chicago 7, Ben Stiller stepped in to take the helm.  After working with Sorkin on the script and even staging a read-through, the two couldn’t crack it and Sorkin eventually moved on to The Social Network.  Before Stiller signed on, Greengrass was apparently considered to direct Chicago 7, and now DreamWorks has circled back to the filmmaker with the intent to get the pic in front of cameras in January.

The titular trial made headlines in 1969, when Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner were charged by the Nixon administration with a litany of crimes following the riots at the 1968 convention.  The trial lasted many months and saw a number of familiar faces called to testify, including Jesse Jackson, Allen Ginsberg, and Norman Mailer.

As someone who was thrilled by the prospect of Sorkin taking on the convention back in 2008 with Spielberg, I’m happy to see that this long-in-development project is finally getting off the ground.  DreamWorks will fully finance The Trial of the Chicago 7, which is being made on a modest budget of around $20-$30 million; that means this probably won’t be the star-studded affair that Spielberg was planning.

What this means for Greengrass’ other projects is uncertain.  There had been talk recently that his Martin Luther King, Jr. drama Memphis might be getting back off the ground with Forest Whitaker in the lead role, and he recently signed on to direct an untitled crime film starring George Clooney and written by Chris Terrio (Argo).  Greengrass most recently directed the Somali pirate drama Captain Philips, which opens in the midst of awards season later this year.


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