Deadline reports that Warner Bros. bought a pitch for a World War II film centered on the Battle of Midway, an early, pivotal WWII battle (June 4-6, 1942) for the United States (positively) and the Japanese (negatively). Warner Bros. purchased the pitch from Bruce C. McKenna, a writer-producer on the recently concluded, Emmy-nominated HBO series, The Pacific. McKenna impressively wrote or co-wrote seven of the miniseries' ten episodes. McKenna was nominated for co-writing the last episode in the series.
Under the deal, McKenna will deliver a completed screenplay in just eight weeks. In case you're wondering, eight weeks isn't a long time to work on and deliver a filmable script, but Warner Bros. executives obviously liked McKenna's plans for bringing the Battle of Midway to the big screen, in 3D no less, to fast-track the first step in production. Deadline's report doesn't mention McKenna's involvement beyond writing the screenplay, but he'll likely produce, if not direct, the 3D war film. According to Deadline, McKenna's film has a price tag of $200 million (or more).
The Battle of Midway has been the focus of two other cinematic efforts. John Ford directed The Battle of Midway in 1942 using actual battle footage. Thirty-four years later, Midway arrived in movie theaters. Midway featured an all-star cast (e.g., Henry Fonda, Charlton Heston, Toshiro Mifune, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, Hal Holbrook, Cliff Robertson) and a mega-budget on par with The Longest Day (1962) and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), A middling effort, Midway pulled in mediocre returns at the box ofice. More docudrama than drama or even war film, Midway spent the first half of its running time building up to the Battle of Midway, following the various major and minor players in the battle on both the Japanese and U.S. sides, before getting to the air and sea battle that resulted in a significant tactical and moral victory for the U.S. and the opposite for the retreating Japanese.
Although HBO has had critical and commercial success with Band of Brothers 10 years ago and now The Pacific, the question remains whether moviegoers will pay premium 3D ticket prices for a film in a sub-genre, the WWII film, that seemed moribund until this announcement. In the last decade-and-a-half, only Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan and Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor proved to be substantial hits at the box office. Other entries, including Terence Malick's The Thin Red Line, and Clint Eastwood's WWII double feature, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, failed to bring in blockbuster-level audiences.
How does a Battle of Midway-centered film sound to you? Good, bad, indifferent? Will the addition of 3D sway you positively or negatively or will you wait to check it out on DVD/Blu-Ray or cable?