While Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey earned a limited release when it first hit theaters, her next film is getting a very wide opening. Universal Pictures announced today that Jolie’s Unbroken will hit theaters on December 25, 2014, just in time for the holiday (and awards) season. Based on the non-fiction book by Lauren Hillenbrand, the film tells the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943. Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer.
Embedded in the press release regarding the release date is the fantastic news that the immensely talented Roger Deakins (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) will be acting as the director of photography on the pic, which boasts a screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen. Production on Unbroken should begin later this year. The other films currently scheduled for release on Christmas next year are the Annie remake, Disney’s star-studded musical Into the Woods, and Night at the Museum 3. Hit the jump to read the press release. [Update: Variety reports that, after a screen testing process, Jack O’Connell (300: Rise of an Empire) has been tapped to lead the film.]
Universal City, CA, July 10, 2013—Universal Pictures today announced that Unbroken, the new film directed by Angelina Jolie, will be released in North American theaters on December 25, 2014. Unbroken marks Jolie’s second turn behind the camera, after her critically acclaimed directorial debut, 2011’s Golden Globe Award-nominated In the Land of Blood and Honey.
Based on The New York Times bestselling book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand (“Seabiscuit: An American Legend”),Unbroken is set to begin production in late September 2013. Jolie, who is joined on the project by fellow producers Matthew Baer (City by the Sea) and Erwin Stoff (The Day the Earth Stood Still), has been a fierce champion of bringing this incredible story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini’s bravery and heroism to the big screen. Joining the behind-the-scenes crew are an accomplished team, led by ten-time Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall), who comes aboard as director of photography, and Jon Hutman (In the Land of Blood and Honey), who reteams with Jolie as the film’s production designer.
“I’ve had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with Louie Zamperini, who is a hero of mine, and now—I am proud to say—a dear friend,” said Jolie. “I am deeply honored to be telling his extraordinary story, and I will do my absolute best to give him the film he deserves. I am grateful to Universal for making this film a priority.”
Originally published by Random House in 2010, the book follows the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII—only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. The book has sat atop The New York Times bestseller list for more than 135 consecutive weeks and is the sixth best-selling nonfiction title ever since the list began in 1942. It was also the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction.
The project has a long history with the studio, which first acquired the rights to tell the life story of Zamperini in 1957 and optioned the rights to Hillenbrand’s book in December 2010. Jolie was attached to direct in December 2012.
Academy Award® winners Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men) rewrote the screenplay from earlier drafts by William Nicholson (Les Misérables) and Richard LaGravenese (HBO’sBehind the Candelabra). Mick Garris and David Crockett serve as executive producers.