It’s a great story, but it might not lend itself to the big screen
The dramatic takedown of Osama bin Laden seems like a hit movie in the making. But is it really?
The story is exciting enough: Commandos burst into a terrorist’s fortified lair — kill the bad guy, crash a helicopter, find documents and computers and grab a few prisoners.
Seven thousand miles away, in the White House, the president watches it all go down, waiting for the raid's leader to utter the code word for success.
But after surveying leading movie producers and executives, TheWrap learned that there are plenty of pitfalls – not including the fact that filmmakers including "Hurt Locker" duo Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal — were already working on Bin Laden movies.
Here are seven potential pitfalls.
1. For big action movies to succeed, they need international audiences. It's unclear how a movie about the American operation to kill Bin Laden would play outside the U.S. There is already some (ridiculous) doubt abroad that the commandos actually killed the terrorist, and in many countries, audiences either don't care about the operation or don't approve of it.
"Overseas it isn't as black and white as it is here," a studio exec said. "Some people don't like that America went out and did what we did." Indeed, the movie wouldn't only write off cities with large Muslim communities — like Paris and London — it might piss them off.
2. Strange as it may sound, the story might be a little too formulaic for Hollywood. “It’s been done,” a studio executive told TheWrap. “Any time you’ve ever had a story like this, you have the same ingredients. They research it to figure out how to break the perimeter, something goes wrong, and then the good guys win.” Making it more interesting — looking at the question of whether to drop a bomb or send in a strike force, for instance — could require inserting one of Hollywood's least-favorite elements: nuance.
3. Everyone already knows how the story turns out. “I know how it ends,” one studio executive told TheWrap. “Why would I pay my money to see this?” Of course, if that were the case, no one would ever go to a James Bond movie. Or a Bourne movie. Or anything based on a true story.
4. Who would star in it? The exec questioned whether there’s anyone out there today that could pull it off. “Who is your ‘Rambo’ today? That star does not exist. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Gibson at his peak, there were stars. Matthew McConaughey or Jon Hamm is not gonna be that guy.”
More importantly, we'll probably never know who actually fired the fatal bullet.
5. Who would direct? You'd need someone like Paul Greengrass who directed "United 93," and there aren't many directors out there as subtle with a festering-wound of a story. In fact, Greengrass (left) would be perfect — in addition to his movie about the United Airlines flight that went down over Shanksville, Pennsylvania, he directed two "Bourne" movies and "The Green Zone." So the guy knows action. Just keep Oliver Stone away from it.
6. The heroes – the SEALs – can't sell their story. A writer can make up their backgrounds, but that sort of detracts from the “true” part of the true story. But more to the point, who owns the rights? This story is filled with anonymous heroes — and they'll remain anonymous for years to come.
7. It needs to be done fast. The studio executive said it’d be better for television – and not necessarily as a true story. “It needs to be done quickly,” the exec said. Of course, the danger in this is that if it's done too fast it could end up factually wrong. The White House has already changed its story once on what actually happened. Who knows what other Monday morning quarterbacking is on the way.
"Ripped from the headlines," anyone?