Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have changed course. They were going to next make a movie on Bowe Bergdahl, and they participated on bringing to light the story of the Army sergeant captured and held by the Taliban for five years in Afghanistan, on Serial, the Peabody Award-winning podcast that spun off from This American Life. Instead, Bigelow will next direct Boal’s script about an untitled crime story that takes place in Detroit. Bigelow will produce with Boal and Annapurna’s Megan Ellison and Matthew Budman. This will be the Oscar winning director Bigelow’s tenth film as a director, and the first off the battlefield that she and Boal have focused on for both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. The film’s financed by Annapurna Pictures, and is set to begin principal photography this summer. The picture will be set in 1967 in the backdrop of Detroit’s devastating riots that took place over five summer days in 1967. Boal has been researching and working on the project, which explores systemic racism in urban Detroit, for more than a year. Although no studio is yet attached, a release date is being targeted for 2017, the 50th anniversary of the riots.
So what about Bowe Bergdahl? Boal told Deadline that, quite simply, they’ll have to wait for a third act that won’t come until Bergdahl’s court martial trial is completed. That was pushed until the summer.
“Nobody in Washington predicted that Bowe’s journey would take so many twists and turns and would continue to be unresolved,” he said. “I certainly didn’t see it coming and I was working on this other story at the same time. It’s also a very timely tale that deals with systemic racism in a way I think is relevant to contemporary audiences. It felt like the right thing to do to go ahead with the Detroit project, which was finished, and tell that story now. We will circle back to Bergdahl when the military proceedings are resolved.”
The second season of Serial has became a viral sensation, focusing on the mystery behind Bergdahl and his brutal captivity after inexplicably leaving his base in Afghanistan. Front and center on this season of Serial has been Page One’s Boal and Hugo Lindgren, the former New York Times editor who runs his company. The U.S. government recovered him in a prisoner swap of five Taliban higher-ups held at Guantanamo Bay, and promptly charged Bergdahl with desertion. During nearly five years of captivity, the Army sergeant was severely beaten and after numerous escape attempts, spent the last three and one half years of captivity blindfolded and held in a small cage.
It’s good to see Bigelow and Boal back in action. They collaborated on Triple Frontier, another hot button drama at Paramount that JC Chandor will direct from Boal’s script, after Bigelow and Boal moved to the Bergdahl story.