At the time of Osama bin Laden’s death in May of 2011, the writing-directing team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal — the Oscar-winning duo behind The Hurt Locker — were hard at work on a procedural film “about the near-miss pursuit of bin Laden in Tora Bora in 2001.” In fact, they were only “a few months away” from beginning production on said project when they agreed to abandon it in light of exploring the mission that turned out not to be a “near-miss.” This film, of course, is the Jessica Chastain-starring Zero Dark Thirty, which we’ll all finally get a look at once it begins spooling out theatrically throughout December and January.
As for the scrapped Tora Bora project, though, Bigelow and Boal, speaking to EW, expressed the fact that they wouldn’t at all be against going back to it for their Zero Dark Thirty follow-up. “Nobody likes to throw out two years of work,” said Boal himself, and there even seems to be a possibility of reshaping the material in order to make it work as a prequel of sorts to the forthcoming Zero Dark Thirty. Much of this project’s fate, I’m sure, will depend on how Zero Dark Thirty fares critically and especially commercially — remember, The Hurt Locker only made a modest $17 million domestically — but there seems to be a kinship between these two collaborators that may not get broken for some time.
This reads like something of a mixed blessing, in my view, since I’d hate to see an artist with as much range as Bigelow become pinned-down into this highly specific action-thriller, war-movie realm. (If they do indeed take up this aforementioned follow-up, perhaps they could at least shed the bin Laden emphasis and seek out a different story.) That said, though, I couldn’t say a single negative thing about The Hurt Locker, and I’d be very surprised if Zero Dark Thirty came and went without making some type of bang. We’ll find out for sure soon enough — the film begins its theatrical run on December 19.
Would you like to see Bigelow and Boal follow Zero Dark Thirty with another bin Laden procedural? Do you think they would be able to successfully structure it as a prequel?