EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott may be currently gearing up for his Getty kidnapping drama, but he’s also got his eye on another historical pic that he’s keen to add to his list of credits. The Brit director is planning to helm a project for 20th Century Fox based on the epic Battle of Britain, one of the most decisive battles in World War II history that saw the courageous British underdogs overcome Nazi titans.
Up-and-coming UK writer Matthew Orton, who recently wrote the WWII historical drama Operation Finale (previously known as Eichmann) which will star Oscar Isaac, will write the script. Matt Charman, who wrote Bridge of Spies for Steven Spielberg, will exec produce the film. Charman first paired with Orton in 2015 as his mentor for UK feature scheme Guiding Lights and since then, the duo have built a unique partnership, with Charman really taking the burgeoning Brit writer under his wing as he builds his career.
Sources tell me that Battle of Britain is in very early stages, but this is a passion project for Scott, who’s been keen to make a film version of what is known as “Britain’s finest hour” for some time. Fox bought the project as a pitch last year, and Scott Free will produce with Safehouse’s Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell. Steve Asbell will oversee the project for Fox.
It will be the first time someone has tackled the weighty subject matter of the epic military campaign — considered the first major battle fought entirely by air forces — since Guy Hamilton’s 1969 film Battle Of Britain. In the summer of 1940, after Adolf Hitler swept through France and drove the British army out of mainland Europe, the British public readied themselves for a Nazi invasion. A large part of Hitler’s early-war momentum was driven by his powerful air force, the Luftwaffe, and in late June 1940 (after the Dunkirk evacuation), Germany began to prepare for a battle with Britain’s Royal Air Force. Around 3,000 RAF men fought the mighty Luftwaffe in the battle, which lasted 112 days, and by October, the RAF emerged victorious. It became the first major defeat for Germany in WWII and is seen as one of a few major turning points of the war for the allied forces.
Orton is no stranger to tackling weighty, political subject matter: Operation Finale is based on a group of Israeli spies who work to track down the notorious Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in the 1960s so he can stand trial for his war crimes in Israel. Charman will exec produce that project as well and there’s plans for the two to partner for more projects in the future. Additionally, Orton is writing Reason Of State, a political thriller set in 10 Downing Street for Black Bear Pictures.
Scott is gearing up to direct All The Money In The World for Sony, the David Scarpa-scripted Black List drama about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and he’s lined up The Cartel, also with Fox, an adaptation of the Don Winslow’s bestseller about the drug war in Mexico. He’s also coming off the back of Alien: Covenant, which Fox opens May 19.
Scott is repped by WME. Orton is repped by WME, Grandview and The Agency in the UK. Charman is repped by CAA, Grandview, ITG and Bruggerman Rush.