EXCLUSIVE: Paul Greengrass will next direct a movie he has written about the Norwegian terrorist who in 2011 murdered 77 people in the country’s deadliest attack since WWII. Netflix has won the right to make the film in heavy competition. Scott Rudin will produce with Greg Goodman and Eli Bush.
The horrific violence was inflicted by Anders Behring Breivik, a self-described right-wing Christian extremist with a hatred for Muslims. He started the carnage by detonating a fertilizer bomb outside the headquarters of the prime minister that killed eight people. After that, Breivik dressed in a police uniform, took a short ferry ride to Utoya Island outside of Oslo, and methodically murdered teens attending a Labor Party Youth Camp as they tried to escape. The madman, who wrote a 1500-page manifesto critical of Muslim immigration and European liberalism that he was not permitted to read at trial, was sentenced to 21 years. That was the maximum possible sentence in a country that doesn’t have the death penalty.
I’m told the film will be shot in Norway at a $20 million budget with local actors. Prep will begin this week for a fall shoot. It sounds similar to Greengrass’ 2002 film Bloody Sunday, about the Irish civil rights protest march and subsequent massacre by British troops on January 30, 1972, or United 93, the Best Picture-nominated 2007 film that Greengrass directed about the heroism of passengers who lost their lives wresting control of a plane and crashing it in Pennsylvania before terrorists could slam it into the White House or the Capitol Building on September 11, 2001. I wrote about the passionate pitch that Greengrass made on that film, and this sounds like the same kind of passion project with difficult and troubling subject matter. Greengrass last directed Jason Bourne, and before that the Best Picture nominee Captain Phillips, the latter a film that was produced by Rudin along with Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti. Rudin is aligned with Greengrass on Memphis, the final days of Martin Luther King Jr, his assassination and the subsequent manhunt by the same FBI agents who haunted the Civil Rights leader. So far they haven’t gotten that one made. Rudin also produced the Noah Baumbach-directed The Meyerowitz Stories, a film that debuted at Cannes and will be released exclusively on Netflix.
Greengrass had expected to make the Brian Helgeland-scripted film Ness, about the famed incorruptible lawman, at Paramount. There was talk that Greengrass’s favorite leading man collaborator, Matt Damon, was being courted. But instead he will next make this movie. It is a big get for Netflix’s Scott Stuber-run feature division, winning over five other offers to make the picture when Greengrass’s reps at CAA brought the project to the marketplace.