EXCLUSIVE: After making a name for himself for his British gangster pics, Guy Ritchie has set his sights on the World War II genre as sources tell Deadline Ritchie has signed on to write and direct Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare for Paramount Pictures. Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman will produce on behalf of Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
Based on the book Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill’s Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops by Damien Lewis, Paramount has had the rights since 2015, when the studio outbid a handful of other suitors to land the book rights. The latest draft is penned by Arash Amel, who after working on several Bruckheimer films was handpicked by Bruckheimer and is team to take on this latest draft.
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Previous drafts were written including Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson.
This tale takes place in 1939, when the Brits were being pounded by Germany in mainland Europe, and Winston Churchill wanted to hit back hard. His answer: Stop fighting under accepted gentlemanly rules of engagement and create a group of warriors who became the first “deniable” secret operatives to strike behind enemy lines. They were basically Britain’s first black ops unit. Members were recruited, knowing they were likely to be killed. They became a very tightknit group, and their work spanned WWII. They won important victories against the Nazis, breaking all the accepted rules of warfare in the process and using deception and even the bow and arrow to dispatch the enemy.
Ivan Atkinson will executive produce, and Paramount SVP Production Vanessa Joyce will oversee the project for the studio.
The story seems like a perfect fit for Ritchie, whose films always are filled with fun characters, witty dialogue and hard-hitting action. It also gives him the opportunity to put his own spin on the time period and genre, similar to Quentin Tarantino with Inglourious Basterds.
After directing the live-action Aladdin, which went on to gross more then $1 billion at the worldwide box office, Ritchie has gotten back into the gangster genre. He most recently directed The Gentlemen with Matthew McConaughey and Charlie Hunnam and is currently reuniting with Jason Statham on Five Eyes.
Amel recently sold the Fred & Ginger at Amazon Studios starring Jamie Bell and Margaret Qualley and is also penning Greek Freak at Disney+.
He is repped by CAA. The Curtis Brown Group reps Lewis. Amel is repped by CAA, Grandview and Myman Greenspan.
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