It used to be that if your movie was a high-profile drama set in the 1960s, you could count on boomers coming out to support your project. That’s no longer the case with movies like Detroit and First Man floundering at the box office. These kind of performances have apparently put the kibosh on Aaron Sorkin’s plan to direct The Trial of the Chicago 7. According to THR, “Sources say that budgetary concerns forced the company to pull the plug on the feature project, which was in pre-production and heading toward a February 2019 start.”
Per THR, “Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne and Jonathan Majors were on board to star in the drama about anti-war activists such as Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Tom Hayden, who were accused by the federal government of conspiracy and incitement to riot because of the protests surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention.” It’s a project that had lured such a filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Paul Greengrass, and Ben Stiller before Sorkin signed on to direct a couple months ago. It seemed like the project was on the fast track by landing actors like Cohen and Redmayne for a February 2019 shoot, but now it’s all come apart.
The project isn’t completely dead as “Amblin insiders say the company remains committed to project and will, with Sorkin, regroup and redevelop it,” but how low can the budget go if the fundamental problem is a story that may not get people to come out? First Man, which seems like a slam dunk on paper, probably has more than a few studios spooked since it shows that you can have the perfectly packaged project and still come up woefully short at the box office. Maybe ten years ago a studio would pony up for The Trial of the Chicago 7, but now the game is significantly different. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this project surfaces again with a slightly lower price tag and a distribution deal on a steaming service.