Paul Greengrass on Leaving Aaron Sorkin's 'The Trial of the Chicago 7'
Over the summer, we learned that The Bourne Ultimatum and Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass might take on the gestating drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, the story which chronicles the trial surrounding seven defendants charged by the Nixon administration with a variety of crimes following the riots that took place 1968 Democratic National Convention. However, the director has fallen away from the project, and while we were waiting for a new director to take over before reporting the news, Greengrass just explained leaving the film, and it shines some light on why it seems to be so difficult to get off the ground.
The project has been developing for years now, and Greengrass was first interested back in 2008, but now it appears that he's realized that he might not be the director to make the film. However, his explanation makes it hard to imagine any director can do this better than the documentary Chicago 10. Greengrass explains to The Huffington Post: (via The Playlist):
Well, Dreamworks asked me in the summer and I really would love to work with Steven Spielberg … and Aaron Sorkin had written a great screenplay. But, I felt that there have been other versions of that serial done. It's from "Chicago 10," what it's based on, which is part animation. And I felt when I watched the animation -- that was really the true reason, to be honest. And I thought it was a really good film. I felt that it was left sort of challenged, for me, to kind of redo something that had already been animated.
Then there was the whole issue of -- which is sort of another related problem -- that film essentially tells the story with animation, then a huge and beautifully compiled series of archived material that sort of takes you through the four days of the Chicago demonstrations that lead into the riot and that final night. That archive material is magnificent and when I looked into how in today's cinema economics, for a film that's not going to find a wide audience -- it's essentially a niche film; a very interesting niche film -- how are you going to render the scale of that event? You find that you can get yourself into a place where you really want to do a film, but you can't really be confident that you can do it comfortably within a budget. You know, that you're all comfortable with -- it's not like you're on an opposite side; you're actually on the same side. But you kind of look at it and you go, actually, given the sort of filmmaker I am, I don't think this is going to work.
There's definitely a vibe that maybe some of the creative concerns from Greengrass didn't jive with the studio's budget plans for a film that definitely doesn't have a huge audience. Plus, it doesn't help that Greengrass ultimately doesn't feel like he could do the story better than the aforementioned documentary. That doesn't mean there isn't a director out there who couldn't tackle this project the right way, especially with a script from Aaron Sorkin, but Greengrass just didn't think he could pull it off. Here's hoping the studio can get someone to get this project off the ground sooner than later.