EXCLUSIVE: Justin Kurzel is readying what looks likely to be his next project and it’s a humdinger: an adaptation of Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark’s book The Siege: 68 Hours Inside The Taj Hotel. The book recounts in terrifying detail the terrorist attack in 2008 on the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India by a group of heavily armed Pakistani militants. Anthony McCarten (The Theory Of Everything) is adapting the book with StudioCanal circling to fully finance. Ollie Madden produces for Kudos and Shine Pictures.
Very much in the vein of Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips or even Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, the project will offer a 360-degree look at those tragic few days as we follow ordinary tourists enjoying what they thought would be the holiday of a lifetime, the under-siege employees of the grand hotel, as well as the terrorists themselves. For 68 hours, hundreds were held hostage as shots rang out and an enormous fire raged. When the smoke cleared, 31 people were dead and many more had been injured. Only the courageous actions of staff and guests — including Mallika Jagad, Bob Nichols, and Taj general manager Binny Kang — prevented a much higher death toll.
Kurzel and StudioCanal already have a good relationship following on from their collaboration on the Michael Fassbender-Marion Cotillard-starrer Macbeth. In that Shakespearean adaptation, Kurzel proved just how dynamic and visceral a director he is. He is currently back in the action with Fassbender on their tentpole live-action adaptation of popular Ubisoft video game Assassin’s Creed for New Regency.
The plan is for Kurzel to get this project going once he’s done with his Assassin’s commitments towards the end of next year. Interestingly, new StudioCanal president Didier Lupfer was, until a few weeks ago, head of production and development at the Ubisoft Motion Pictures arm, which had been set up to adapt the likes of Assassin’s Creed into feature content.
Kurzel is repped by CAA and HLA Management. McCarten is repped by ICM Partners.