Yesterday’s news which revealed that Universal has decided to not move forward with The Dark Tower was obviously a major blow to the project, and it’s probably opened up Ron Howard‘s schedule a good amount for the time being. (Unless it finds another studio, that is.) He has both Rush — likely starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl — and Spy vs. Spy in various stages of development, and now, likely because of The Dark Tower‘s postponement, Deadline says that a new movie has just fallen into his lap.
Based on the book by Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer, it’s titled Under the Banner of Heaven. Telling the story of two brothers who murdered their sister-in-law and niece, the book also chronicled the origins and rise of the Mormon church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The article doesn’t say if that latter half will be retained for the film, but it seems fairly relevant to the book’s story and structure. That’s because the brothers not only say that God told them to commit the killings, but that it tied into their interpretation of Mormonism, which relates to the Church’s beginnings. The story goes some shocking places from there (which I won’t give away), and the material sounds compelling enough where it’s surprising the movie hasn’t been put into development sooner.
The script will be written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his work on Milk (which starred Into the Wild director Sean Penn), and Howard will be directing, as well as producing through Imagine Entertainment with frequent partner, Brian Grazer, along with Shannon Costello, Jason Bateman, Stephanie Davis. The two of them also produced Clint Eastwood‘s J. Edgar, which Black was the writer on, so the pairing of writer and director is pretty easy to understand. J. Edgar‘s studio, Warner Bros., is distributing the film, and they’ve also been mentioned as a possible savior of Dark Tower; I can’t say if this would perpetuate those rumors any further, but it’s something to consider.
I think that this whole thing sounds like it could be great material for a film, and I’m encouraged by Black scripting the project — I thought his work on Milk showcased a great skill of condensing history while not leaving out anything too major, and still containing a lot of emotion. Howard can be a little too safe as a director, so I don’t know how he would handle more social and moral issue-filled material like this. I’ll remain optimistic about it, partially because Into the Wild was one of my favorite movies of the past ten years.
Does this project sound interesting to you? In your opinion, is this the right team to tell the story?