CULVER CITY, Calif., Sept. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Tom Rothman's TriStar Productions and Film4 announced today that the three-time Oscar®-winner Ang Lee has chosen an adaptation of Ben Fountain's acclaimed novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk as his next film, his first since winning the Academy Award® for directing the groundbreaking Life of Pi.
The film will be produced by Lee, Ink Factory's Stephen Cornwell, Rhodri Thomas and Simon Cornwell and by Film4, who originally optioned the book. Simon Beaufoy wrote the script. TriStar has been developing the project with Film4 and Ink Factory since opening its doors at the end of last year. Tessa Ross, who oversaw Film and Drama for Film4 until recently being named to run the UK's National Theatre, was instrumental on behalf of that studio.
Making the movie for TriStar returns Lee to the Sony Pictures umbrella, where he enjoyed great success with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Sense and Sensibility.
The film tells the funny and heartbreaking story of 19-year-old soldier Billy Lynn and his squad, who survive an Iraq battle that is captured by embedded news cameras, causing them to become celebrated as heroes. They are brought home by the US administration for a promotional tour that culminates at the halftime show of a Thanksgiving Day football game in Texas, before they are returned to the war. Almost the entire movie takes place during the game, with flashes away to other events.
Rothman, who has a long history with Lee, orchestrated the deal to bring on the director. The longtime colleagues' most recent venture was the "unfilmable" Life of Pi. Defying all odds, that film grossed $600 million at the worldwide box office.
Said Lee, "I am very excited to be going back to work and to be collaborating with my old friend Tom Rothman. The most important thing to me is storytelling and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a story that immediately gripped me. I look forward to starting the creative process with this extraordinary team of collaborators."
Commenting on the announcement, Rothman said, "Ang Lee is constitutionally incapable of repeating himself. His very DNA requires him to always find new challenges. 'More of the same' may be the film fashion these days, but thankfully not for this exceptional artist. Ang Lee's Billy Lynn will be a true original, and TriStar is in the business of investing in originality, here combined with innovation. Big movies come from such combinations, as witness Life of Pi. We are grateful to Ink Factory, Simon Beaufoy and Ben Fountain for trusting TriStar with Billy's story. Having worked with my friend Tessa on Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave, and many other films, I am also grateful to Film4 and sad (but only for us) that she got such a great new gig."
Tessa Ross added, "All of us at Film4 are bowled over that Ang Lee, one of the outstanding filmmakers of his generation, shares our passion for this wonderful material. It's a thrilling collaboration to look forward to and we're very excited to work with our partners at TriStar and this great team to make what promises to be a truly memorable piece of cinema."
Stephen Cornwell, on behalf of The Ink Factory, said, "From the moment we first read Ben Fountain's amazing novel, we believed it would be the foundation for a seminal movie. Film4 and TriStar have been wonderful development partners. Simon Beaufoy did a terrific job and Ang's vision for the film is groundbreaking and extraordinary."
BEN FOUNTAIN'S novel received rave reviews upon its publication in 2012. The New York Times called it: "[an] inspired, blistering war novel…Though it covers only a few hours, the book is a gripping, eloquent provocation. Class, privilege, power, politics, sex, commerce and the life-or-death dynamics of battle all figure in Billy Lynn's surreal game day experience." It won the National Book Critics Circle Award (fiction) and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (fiction) and was also a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award for Fiction. Previously, Fountain won a PEN/Hemingway award for his book Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories.
ANG LEE was honored with the Academy Award® for Best Director for his work on Brokeback Mountain and again on Life of Pi; in addition, he took home the Oscar® as the director of the Best Foreign Language Film winner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. His many other indelible films include The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Ride with the Devil, Hulk, Lust, Caution and Taking Woodstock.
THE INK FACTORY (inkfactoryfilms.com) was founded in 2010 by Stephen and Simon Cornwell. Most recently the company produced the John le Carre adaptation A Most Wanted Man, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and is currently in post-production on Our Kind of Traitor, starring Ewan McGregor, also adapted from the le Carre novel. The company is currently developing numerous projects based on the works of le Carre and other major authors.
SIMON BEAUFOY won the Academy Award® for his screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire, which also won the Oscar® for Best Picture for Fox Searchlight, then under Mr. Rothman. Beaufoy was also Oscar® nominated for his work as a writer of The Full Monty and 127 Hours, also for Rothman. His other recent credits include Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and the upcoming film Everest.
At TRISTAR, Ang Lee joins a fast growing roster of A-list talent currently making films for the rejuvenated studio, including go movies Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep, The Walk, from Robert Zemeckis, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith and Money Monster, starring George Clooney, in addition to projects with Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, and others.
FILM4 is Channel 4 Television's feature film division. Film4 develops and co-finances films and is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in the UK, whether new or established. Film4 has developed and co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years, Academy Award®-winners such as Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, Martin McDonagh's In Bruges and Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady; in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Mike Leigh's Another Year, Chris Morris' Four Lions, Shane Meadows' This is England, Ben Wheatley's Sightseers and Clio Barnard's The Selfish Giant.
Lee is represented by CAA, Ira Schreck, and Joe Dapello. The film is set to start production in the spring.
About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to http://www.sonypictures.com.
SOURCE Sony Pictures Entertainment