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Several years back, Aaron Sorkin penned a script called The Trial of the Chicago 7 that caught the attention of some high-profile directors. Among those were Steven Spielberg, who was originally set to direct, and then Paul Greengrass and Ben Stiller, when Spielberg departed.

As of today, the screenplay still hasn’t made it to the big screen. But now it may be getting some help from one of the filmmakers who looked at it before. Greengrass is in final talks to direct the fact-based drama, some five years after he first started circling. Hit the jump for the film’s history, plot, and more.

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Forest Whitaker

Having won an Oscar for portraying one historical leader, Forest Whitaker is preparing to tackle another. Only while The Last King of Scotland‘s Idi Amin was a ruthless dictator, Memphis‘ Martin Luther King Jr. was, well, Martin Luther King Jr.

Paul Greengrass is directing the Scott Rudin-produced film, which is now going the indie route after being dropped by Universal a couple years back. Hit the jump to get the details.

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Captain Phillips lo

One word comes to mind watching the first trailer for Paul Greengrass‘ latest film Captain Phillips: Intense. Few filmmakers are better at creating incredible tension and drama out of real world situations, and it appears the director of United 93, Bloody Sunday and two Bourne movies has done it again. This time he’s joined by Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, who plays the title character in the true story of an unarmed American freighter ship hijacked by Somali pirates.

The film, which co-stars Catherine Keener, John Magaro and others, will but out October 11. Check out the trailer below. Read More »

Briefly: A year ago not so many people knew Chris Terrio‘s name. He was a screenwriter with popular work on the Black List and a feature directorial credit to his name. (Heights, which went to Sundance in 2005.) But then Ben Affleck decided to direct Terrio’s script Argo, and things changed. Now Argo producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov are working with Terrio on a crime script, and they’ve got Paul Greengrass attached to direct.

Variety reports that Clooney is attached to star, and that the story is an original tale “set in the world of New York criminal syndicates.” We don’t have more detail than that. Greengrass first has to release Captain Phillips, the film he directed in which he and Tom Hanks dramatize the true story of an attack by Somali pirates. Clooney will next be in Gravity, and he’s set to direct and star in The Monuments Men, and is in talks for Brad Bird’s sci-fi film 1952.

When Universal was shedding projects in 2011, one that was dropped was Memphis, a chronicle of Martin Luther King, Jr. from producer Scott Rudin and director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93). The film was ambitiously scheduled, with a hopeful release date set for this year’s MLK holiday, and with Greengrass not being noted for his post-production speed.

But there was also question over whether the King estate approved the script. All told, the deck was stacked against the project, and Greengrass moved on to Captain Phillips. I joked when Universal cut the film loose that Annapurna Productions should step in, but in reality it looks like Wild Bunch is now going to finance Memphis, giving Rudin and Greengrass another chance to tell the story. Read More »

Briefly: Sony has just announced release dates for two very different projects I’d very nearly forgotten about. Variety reports that Paul Greengrass‘ reality-based Somali pirate tale Captain Phillips is now slated for a March 22, 2013 opening, while Salim Akil‘s music-themed drama Sparkle will hit August 10, 2012.

The former stars Tom Hanks as real-life hero Captain Richard Phillips, who offered himself as a hostage to Somali pirates in exchange for the safety of his cargo ship’s crew. Adapted by Billy Ray (State of Play) from Phillips’ memoir A Captain’s Duty, Captain Phillips comes from The Social Network producers Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, and Kevin Spacey. The March 2013 date pits Captain Phillips against DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods, which is aimed at a younger demographic.

Akil’s Sparkle is a remake of the 1976 drama of the same title, and is a fictionalized take on the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes. Starring Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, and Whitney Houston (in her first big-screen role since 1996′s The Preacher’s Wife), the film will feature original music from R. Kelly. Sparkle‘s August release coincides with the opening two rather dissimilar films — Jonathan Levine’s zombie romance Warm Bodies and Jay Roach’s political comedy Dog Fight.

Paul Greengrass To Direct ‘The Fear Index’

Update: This is now confirmed.

At this point Paul Greengrass has not directed more movies than he’s directed. Let me explain. Since his last film, Green Zone, the director has been attached to at least nine different projects. Some he’s committed to doing, others just floated his name, but considering he’s only directed seven features (though we really only talk about five) it’s a pretty staggering number of possible projects to be attached to in under two years. Either he’s really unlucky, like was the case with Memphis, or really picky, as was probably the case with Fantastic Voyage. Most likely a combination of both.

All this, of course, leads to the obvious. Novelist and screenwriter Robert Harris said that Paul Greengrass is “on board” to direct the film version of his upcoming novel, The Fear Index. Read more after the jump. Read More »

Here’s an incremental update on both the film to be based on Captain Richard Phillips‘ memoir A Captain’s Duty and the next stage in the career of director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, Green Zone). Last week we reported that the director had become a candidate for Sony’s film based on the book, which Tom Hanks became attached to months ago based on the script by Billy Ray.

Now Sony has offered the directorial duties to Paul Greengrass, and negotiations are about to begin. Looks like this will be his next film. Read More »

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