Paul Greengrass looked all but set to make the Martin Luther King Jr. docudrama, Memphis, his next directorial effort - before Universal backed out of financing the film, that is. Now the Oscar-nominated filmmaker has his eye on several other new projects (for the record, though, The Bourne Legacy is definitely not one of them).
Greengrass is reportedly considering three different scripts: Rush, a true-life historical racing drama from Oscar-nominee Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon); Maersk Alabama, an adaptation of the acclaimed non-fiction work "A Captain's Duty"; and a third, undisclosed film.
Maersk Alabama is easily the most high-profile of those projects - that have been disclosed, at least. Sony is the financial force behind the adaptation, which is being produced by Oscar-winner Scott Rudin (The Social Network) and has Tom Hanks attached to star. Vulture says that Sony officials are looking to begin production on the project once Hanks completes work on the Wachowski siblings' Cloud Atlas adaptation this summer.
"A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and Dangerous Days At Sea" was written by actual U.S. Navy Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates when his ship (the Maersk Alabama) was attacked back in 2009. He was ultimately rescued and was highly recognized for his efforts, seeing as that he allowed himself to be captured so that his crew could escape to safety.
Rush, by comparison, is also based on a real-life incident. The project is a dramatization of the (both personal and professional) rivalry between race drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt back in 1976. It was that year in which Lauda barely escaped being killed in a terrible racing accident, only to go on and beat Lauda in the World Driver Championship by a single point.
Those who have seen either Greengrass' most recent true-story dramatic thrillers (Green Zone, United 93) or recall his work on the last two Bourne movies, know that he's quite capable at crafting intense yet intelligent high-stakes motion pictures. Not everyone is a fan of his cinéma vérité filmmaking style (read: lots of shaky camerawork, naturalistic lighting, etc.) but there's no denying that he's quite effective at making engagingly cinematic and gritty thrill rides.
Even though Memphis sounded like an excellent fit for his artistic sensibilities, both Maersk Alabama and Rush also sound like emotionally-churning character studies that could be right up Greengrass' alley. There's always the chance that he'll go with the not-yet-revealed third choice for his next directing project, but Alabama in particular seems the most likely (and appealing) possibility right now.
Maersk Alabama also ranks alongside Peter Berg's Lone Survivor and Kathryn Bigelow's Osama Bin Laden project as one of three SEAL movies being actively developed in Hollywood right now. It will be interesting to see how each of these military-oriented films differ, especially with regards to their portrayal of both U.S. and foreign troops - and the manner in which they dramatize real-life combat situations.
We'll let you know when Greengrass settles on his next project.