Trial of the Chicago 7 Shut Down

After being in the works for over 10 years, Aaron Sorkin‘s legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 was close to heading into production. However, Amblin Entertainment is shutting down pre-production on the project for the time being. But why? Read More »

Trial of the Chicago 7 Cast

After years of false-starts, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is finally picking up speed. Recently, word broke that Aaron Sorkin would helm the movie, with Sacha Baron Cohen likely to join the cast. Now, another Trial of the Chicago 7 cast member has been announced: Fantastic Beasts actor Eddie Redmayne. Redmayne will play one of the political activists on trial. Read More »


Paul Greengrass‘s on-again, off-again affair with DreamWorks’ The Trial of the Chicago 7 is, well, off again. The Captain Phillips director has just left the Aaron Sorkin-penned drama, two months after we heard he was in talks and five years after he originally started circling. Hit the jump to find out what happened.

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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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What if I told you that Steven Spielberg had dropped out of directing an important historical film, only to have Ben Stiller replace him in the director’s chair?

Yes, Ben Stiller the comedy actor.

The film is The Trial of the Chicago 7, which tells the story of the riots at the 1968 Democratic convention.

To be completely fair, Stiller is actually an accomplished comedy director, even though most people have probably never noticed. Stiller’s directorial credits include Reality Bites, The Cable Guy (one of the most underrated comedies of the 1990’s) and Tropic Thunder. He can do comedy, but what about a serious drama? Stiller is currently in talks to helm the film, but as The Hollywood Reporter notes it is still “very much at the exploratory stage”. Seems to me like all of the parties involved (Speilberg, Dreamworks, and even Stiller) are unsure about the idea.

Paul Greengrass was previously in talks to take over the film, and he seems like a much better choice at first glance. The studio is trying to fast track the project into production. Personally, I’ve never understood the need for this project. I think The 2007 indie documentary Chicago 10 said everything that needs to be said about the incident. And yes, I understand this is the fictional big screen, bigger budget remake, but that still doesn’t help me understand why we need this film.

Discuss: Do you think Ben Stiller can direct a serious historical drama?

Last we heard, Steven Spielberg decided to put The Trial of the Chicago 7 on hold in order to tackle Tintin and his upcoming Lincoln biopic. Everyone assumed that the project had fallen into development hell, never to be seen from again. Nope – apparently the project is still in the works, and currently Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) might now be attached to direct. Rejects found the juicy tidbit hidden within the pages of Production Weekly. At one point, Sacha Baron Cohen was in line to play Abbie Hoffman, and other names circling the project included Will Smith, Taye Diggs, Adam Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Who knows how Greengrass’ take on the story will differ from Spielberg’s original plans. I’m guessing a lot, since both of filmmakers are very different in almost every single way. One thing we can probably count on – it is sure to involve a lot of Greengrass’ trademarked documentary-like shaky cam. Personally, I don’t really see the point of making this film. I think Brett Morgen’s 2007 documentary Chicago 10 (which actually had animated reenactments) pretty much said everything that needs to be said.

Something even more baffling about the project, Devin from CHUD just sent me an email to tell me that the film is actually a remake of the documentary, something I was previously unaware of.

Discuss: Is anyone excited for a Chicago 7 movie? What will Greengrass bring to the table?