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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: How will Hollywood react to the death of Osama bin Laden?

Hard on the heels of the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American special forces in Pakistan came word that — oh noes! — Kathryn Bigelow’s planned flick Kill Bin Laden would need, at a minimum, a rewrite. The movie was to have been an action thriller, a collaboration between Bigelow and her The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal, and would have starred Michael Fassbender– no, wait, Joel Edgerton… or maybe someone else entirely. But now what? From The Hollywood Reporter:

The real-world development could impact the project in several possible ways: The movie could stay more or less the same, gaining momentum as Sunday’s events give its subject matter added weight, context and timeliness. Or perhaps the project will do a 180-degree turn, with a new story line and focus. We can’t imagine the events surrounding Bin Laden’s ultimate killing not being incorporated into the script in some fashion.

Or, of course, Bigelow could lose interest in the subject matter altogether, especially given all the other Bin Laden projects that will likely be fast-tracked to capitalize on the intense worldwide interest in this subject.

It seems inevitable that there will be a movie response to bin Laden’s death, probably more than one. What will those movies look like? From 24 Frames:

Executives and filmmakers sense an opportunity — the Bin Laden killing is one of the few post-9/11 military tales with a satisfying conclusion for American audiences. But it’s also tough to make a story suspenseful when everyone on the planet knows how it ends.

Some saw a big commercial play in the Bin Laden strike, so long as any potential film avoids, well, darkness or nuance (darkness and nuance being that things that may have doomed the box-office fortunes of a host of Iraq and Afghanistan war movies). “You need a big star and a lot of action, something the audience can cheer for,” said one longtime studio marketing executive. Call it the U-S-A version of the film, and one that a Sylvester Stallone could adapt, with only some liberties, for the upcoming “Expendables” sequel.

Great. The bin-Laden-is-dead movie will be the cinematic equivalent of what we saw on the streets of New York and Washington on Sunday night: guys in baseball caps waving giant American flags and hooting “USA! USA! USA!”

Or maybe there is some hope. More from 24 Frames:

But others in Hollywood, including Bryan Singer, who directed “Valkyrie” — the 2008 Tom Cruise movie about an elite group conspiring to kill Hitler — said they saw in the Bin Laden saga a chance for something more detail- and character-driven.

“I could see a kind of ‘All the President’s Men,’ where we track moments of intelligence and how agents followed the trail,” he said. “Just because we know how the story ends doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting or exciting.”

That sounds more palatable.

What do you think? How will Hollywood react to the death of Osama bin Laden? Will we see responses echoed on TV as well as in the movies?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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