EXCLUSIVE: Peter Landesman has been set to direct The Last Battle for Studiocanal and The Picture Company. Landesman, the writer-director of Concussion, has wrapped Felt, the drama that has Liam Neeson playing Hoover’s #2 FBI man Mark Felt, whose “Deep Throat” intel toppled the Nixon Administration over Watergate. Landesman will do a rewrite on The Last Battle script by Bryce Zabel, with production to start this summer. Studiocanal last December acquired Stephen Harding’s bestselling nonfiction The Last Battle: When U.S. And German Soldiers Joined Forces In The Waning Hours Of World War II In Europe. The movie will tell the story of what happened in the chaotic and dangerous days after Hitler’s suicide and before Germany’s surrender. American and Russian forces were colliding with Germans. Some of them pledged to fight to the death but others were resigned to the lost cause and were desperate to survive the final days. American Capt. Jack Lee and the remains of his tank division were pressed into the assignment of freeing VIP prisoners from certain death, so they could help build post-war Europe and provide damning war crimes testimony. Lee had to get there before the 400 Waffen SS troops sent to exterminate the prisoners. Lee teams up with a German officer and his men who had given up the fight to take on the hated SS. The book was published by Da Capo Press in 2013.
The Picture Company’s Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman will produce the film along with Zabel. Jackie Zabel will be executive producer. Landesman began as an investigative reporter before scripting and directing nonfiction tales that started with Parkland and most recently Concussion and Felt, the latter two produced by Ridley Scott and Giannina Facio.
Landesman said he was drawn by the apolitical nature of the tale. “This isn’t uniforms and flags, but about man’s warrior angels against the barbarities unleashed by war; about Americans saving and dying for strangers, Germans fighting Germans,” Landesman said. “This is big-scale war film making in a classic sense, but also an intricate tale of heroism and vengeance and, ultimately, love. It’s rare to come across something this good that also happens to be true. I’m grateful to the producers and StudioCanal, for entrusting me with this.”
Ron Halpern and Shana Eddy will oversee for StudioCanal. Landesman is repped by CAA and Jackoway Tyerman. Studiocanal-based The Picture Company is in post on the Neeson-starrer The Commuter and has a spring production start on the Nima Nourizadeh-directed The Tracking of a Russian Spy.