EXCLUSIVE: It’s almost considered a foregone conclusion that HBO’s The Pacific will sweep the Emmy Award categories for miniseries, due in no small part to the writing work of co-executive producer Bruce C. McKenna who scripted 7 of the 10 installments and is nominated along with Robert Schenkkan for penning the final episode. Now, HBO’s sister company Warner Bros is getting in on his WWII action. The studio has made a preemptive buy of The Battle of Midway, a McKenna pitch for a 3D film about the June 4-6, 1942, turning point of the war. I’m told the studio bought the pitch late last week, and that it is being fast tracked, with McKenna expected to turn in a script in 8 weeks for a film that will likely carry a price tag around $200 million.
I’m told Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road will be the producer of WB’s pic. The Battle of Midway took place six months after the demoralizing surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. When it was over, the supremacy of the Imperial Japanese Navy was lost along with 4 of its aircraft carriers and 1 heavy cruiser. The Japanese never recovered. The Pacific miniseries, which reportedly cost north of $200 million, has already won 7 Creative Arts Emmy Awards; it’s up for 24 total. The mini was exec produced by Steven Spielberg and Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, the same guys who were executive producers on Band of Brothers, for which McKenna wrote three episodes, was Emmy-nominated and won a Writers Guild Award. McKenna’s repped by CAA.
The Battle Of Midway has been captured before on film: in 1942, John Ford directed the Oscar-winner The Battle of Midway using actual battle footage shot by the Navy. There was also the 1976 film Midway starring Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn and Hal Holbrook. The latest deal comes at a time when Universal Pictures is moving forward with the Peter Berg-directed Battleship, another war film involving big boats with a big price tag. But the similarities end there. Berg reportedly will make his film 2D, and the officers on his ship will be shooting at aliens. Warner Bros’ plan will be a closer cousin to Pearl Harbor or Saving Private Ryan and the studio will take a step further by shooting it 3D.