EXCLUSIVE: Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial Of The Chicago 7 is finally getting its day in court. Paramount Pictures has come aboard for domestic distribution, and Cross Creek has boarded as co-financier and is producing along with Amblin Partners. The collective funding infusion has the film now on track to begin production this fall.
Frank Langella has agreed to play US District Court Judge Julius Hoffman, who presided over the trial, and Mark Rylance will play William Kuntsler, the lawyer who defended the civil rights activists. They join a killer cast that previously circled the picture: Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz, Jonathan Majors as Bobby Seale and Alex Sharp as Rennie Davis. These were the major players in the 1969 trial of anti-war activists charged by the federal government with conspiracy for their roles of fomenting protests that marred the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
More stars are being firmed in time for an October production start. That will give the film the chance to be released in the heat of the 2020 presidential elections. Michael Keaton is one of the actors who’ve been mentioned.
Marc Platt is producing with Cross Creek president Tyler Thompson. Shivani Rawat will be executive producer after her ShivHans Pictures came in with funding. Stuart Besser and Matt Jackson are also producing.
The Sorkin script has long been considered one of the best unmade screenplays, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. The biggest players in Hollywood circled at one time or another and that includes Steven Spielberg, who was once going to direct it. The picture looked like a go for early this year with Sorkin at the helm, but The Trial Of The Chicago 7 was temporarily adjourned because of budget concerns. Also, Sorkin was engaged with his celebrated stage play adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird. Now he’s up for air and ready to make his directorial followup to Molly’s Game, which marked his feature helming debut.
This was an incredibly challenging configuration of funding pieced together by CAA Media Finance. It seems to be the way that most adult-themed serious dramas go through these days, but they got it done. Meanwhile, Rocket Science sold the movie widely at the EFM in Berlin.
The picture was held together by Platt’s work behind the scenes, and the key was the funding commitment by Cross Creek and Paramount’s Wyck Godfrey and Jim Gianopulos in stepping up with the rest. Cross Creek recently financed and produced David Ayer’s The Tax Collector, which is due out late 2019, and is producing with Neal Moritz Bloodshot, the Valiant Comics title that Sony will release next year.
“Cross Creek has always backed filmmakers and their vision,” said Thompson. “We continue to strive to create a place for filmmakers to come and make movies like this, that are theatrically relevant and entertaining for all audiences, and we have done it for the last 12 years.”
Langella is repped by ICM Partners and Circle of Confusion; Rylance is CAA and Hamilton Hodell; Baron Cohen and Redmayne are CAA; Gordon-Levitt is WME; Majors is CAA and Grandview and Sharp is CAA and Elin Flack Management.