Paul Greengrass has dropped out of directing the Aaron Sorkin-scripted Chicago 7, the true-life story of a number of 1960s political activists who were arrested and tried, charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests that took place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Greengrass just revived project at Dreamworks just a few months ago after it had lain dormant for several years. The project got its start as the first part of a three film deal Dreamworks made with screenwriter Sorkin in 2007 and saw the writer working closely with Spielberg. However, with the specter of a Screen Actor’s Guild Strike which ultimately never materialized, Spielberg gave the project the first of a number of postponements before ultimately deciding to pass on directing the film. A shame as casting had commenced and Sacha Baron Cohen had been attached to play noted hippie activist Abbie Hoffman.
Dreamworks next approached Ben Stiller, hot off the success of the comedy Tropic Thunder, to head up the project. Although Stiller and Sorkin also collaborated heavily over the script, it ultimately was decided that the project would be too expensive for the studio to produce.
Variety is reporting that once again the project has been derailed over its potential price tag. Dreamworks was looking to spend in the neighborhood of $20-30 million on the film while Greengrass thought a budget closer to $40 million was more in line with what it would take to bring the story to the screen.
Greengrass won’t be hurting for work for long. His latest film, Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks, is already generating some strong buzz and the offers should soon be rolling in. Dreamworks, meanwhile, puts Sorkin’s script back on the shelf until it can find a director who can bring the period piece to fruition under the proposed budget or until they decide to open their wallet a little wider.