The film has been in development for years with Ed Zwick (Glory) previously set to direct with Henry Cavill and Benjamin Walker attached to play the leads. However, that plan crumbled, and Zwick eventually left to go direct Pawn Sacrifice, so Zhang Yimou (Hero) stepped in. The story—based on an idea by Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull and World War Z author Max Brooks—explores the mystery of why the Great Wall of China was built. You think it was to keep out the Mongolian hordes? You fool! IT IS SO MUCH MORE. It’s also a tourist destination and a way for studios to tap into the lucrative Chinese market.
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According to Deadline, Damon is interested in working with Zhang, and the two almost got together on Flowers of War, but that film ultimately starred Christian Bale. Scheduling conflicts might get in the way again since Damon is going to star in Ridley Scott‘s The Martian, and is also attached to reteam with Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester-by-the-Sea and Paul Greengrass for Bourne 5.
The script for The Great Wall is by Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro, but the most recent draft is by The Bourne Ultimatum writer Tony Gilroy, which is great because there’s absolutely no bad blood between Gilroy and Damon whatsoever.