Even though Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker garnered critical acclaim, and top honors at the Academy Awards, Hollywood is pumping the brakes on war-themed content. So it came as a real surprise that, in a Variety piece about just the subject, it was revealed that Michael Mann is still currently attached to direct an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's Spanish Civil War novel For Whom The Bell Tolls.
The project is being set up under the Warner Bros. production banner Industry, and has been gestating since 2006. It was once being developed as a starring vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. But as the Matt Damon topped Green Zone proved this past weekend, with its lackluster $14.5 million debut against it's $100 million budget, it takes more than a big name to get audiences to foray behind enemy lines. Even with The Hurt Locker's well-deserved accolades, it hasn't turned a significant profit, and is the lowest grossing film to ever take home the Best Picture Oscar.
For Whom The Bell Tolls, most famously turned into a 1943 film starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, follows an American who leaves the United States to enlist on the Republican side in the war, travels behind enemy lines to work with Spanish guerrilla fighters, or guerrilleros, hiding in the mountains.
But Bell Tolls isn't the only Spanish Civil War pic Mann has in the works. Last fall we reported that he also intends to make a gritty, low-budget film based on the story of renowned war photographer Robert Capa, tapping play-write and screenwriter Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem/Fair Game) to adapt Susana Fortes' Spanish-language novel Waiting for Robert Capa.
This could be a case of Mann just keeping his hands on two projects with identical backdrops to see which one finds traction first. But he'd be lucky to get anything financed by a studio after his last efforts did little to wow critics or audiences, even with big budgets and more importantly star power -- Jamie Foxx, then fresh off of an Oscar win in Miami Vice, and Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in Public Enemies.
Would you like to see Mann take on FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS?