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William Monahan Writing and Directing The Essex

by
March 26, 2009

Master and Commander Ship

Now this is how you make the most of your career if you win an Oscar. William Monahan, who won the Academy Award for The Departed screenplay in 2007, has been not only attaching himself to every last high profile screenwriting gig over the last few years, but he's making his directorial debut with London Boulevard this fall. But before he's even started directing his first film, he's already lined up more directing gigs to follow. In addition to The Art of the Heist, Monahan will write and direct The Essex, a historical drama about Capt. David S. Porter and his daring sea battles against the British during the War of 1812.

At a time when the ships of the British Royal Navy heavily outnumbered the American naval fleet, Captain Porter steered the Essex past British cruisers to reach the Pacific, where it devastated the British whaling fleet before engaging in a final battle with a special Brit squadron. You can read more about David S. Porter and his story on HistoryNet. Graham King's GK Films and Monahan will produce The Essex, though they haven't decided whether to develop it at a studio or independently just yet. My own suggestion would be to develop it independently, but then again, it depends on how big of a budget they need in the end.

This sounds pretty interesting, but to reference Master and Commander, which only made $94 million at the box office, I'm not sure another period piece set on the open water is a guaranteed success. But with Timur Bekmambetov's Moby Dick in development as well, maybe it could have a chance. Thoughts?

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  • Chris H.
    YESSSS!!!!! Sorry, history teacher here and I love the stories of the Essex. Should be exciting to finally see an American sea epic.
  • Monahan actually had already written a script about Captain David S. Porter way back in 1994. In his New York Press article "Whale's Jaw" he takes a few paragraphs to talk about Captain Porter and writes at one point, "While [Porter] was ashore on Nuku Hiva, he not only fought a bloody high-cinema war with the warlike Typees, he annexed the island, and committed the first act of extraterritorial American imperialism. Don't even think of writing the screenplay. I've got it registered." He goes on for several more paragraphs about Porter's adventures in "Whale's Jaw". Should be an awesome film. BTW, if you want to check out Monahan's masterpiece about New York Press read Dining Late with Claude La Badarian (serialized in 2001). It's awesome.
  • Staatz
    I'm always up for more history!
  • Aaron
    ^^^ +1. I loved Master and Commander and was disappointed that it was not as successful as what I think it deserved. Although I can understand how a movie like that could polarize audiences. Bring on more historical naval movies!
  • werdnafaz
    love it

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