Oscar-Winner Ang Lee Will Direct Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

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Director Ang Lee will reunite with Tom Rothman, who was very involved early in the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s career, as well as responsible for making Lee’s Oscar-winning adaptation of Life of Pi happen at 20th Century Fox before he left. Now, Rothman is at TriStar Pictures and he’s gotten Lee to commit to direct an adaptation of Ben Fountain’s acclaimed 2012 novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Originally optioned by Film4, who will produce alongside Lee, Ink Factory’s Stephen and Simon Cornwell and Rhodri Thomas, Fountain’s novel has been adapted by Simon Beaufoy, another Oscar-winner for adapting Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.

The film will tell the story of 19-year-old soldier Billy Lynn and his squad, who survive an Iraq battle that is captured by embedded news cameras, causing them to become celebrated as heroes. They are brought home by the US administration for a promotional tour that culminates at the halftime show of a Thanksgiving Day football game in Texas, before they are returned to the war. Almost the entire movie takes place during the game, with flashes away to other events.

Working with TriStar also reunites Lee with parent company Sony Pictures for whom he directed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Sense and Sensibility, also both nominated for Oscars that won an award or two. Rothman and Lee’s last venture together, the long-in-develoment Life of Pi ended up grossing $600 million worldwide.

Here are a few sound bytes from those involved, taken from the press release:

Ang Lee

“I am very excited to be going back to work and to be collaborating with my old friend Tom Rothman. The most important thing to me is storytelling and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a story that immediately gripped me. I look forward to starting the creative process with this extraordinary team of collaborators.”

Tom Rothman

“Ang Lee is constitutionally incapable of repeating himself. His very DNA requires him to always find new challenges. ‘More of the same’ may be the film fashion these days, but thankfully not for this exceptional artist. Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn will be a true original, and TriStar is in the business of investing in originality, here combined with innovation. Big movies come from such combinations, as witness Life of Pi. We are grateful to Ink Factory, Simon Beaufoy and Ben Fountain for trusting TriStar with Billy’s story. Having worked with my friend Tessa on Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave, and many other films, I am also grateful to Film4 and sad (but only for us) that she got such a great new gig.”

Tessa Ross from Film4

“All of us at Film4 are bowled over that Ang Lee, one of the outstanding filmmakers of his generation, shares our passion for this wonderful material. It’s a thrilling collaboration to look forward to and we’re very excited to work with our partners at TriStar and this great team to make what promises to be a truly memorable piece of cinema.”

Stephen Cornwell from Ink Factory

“From the moment we first read Ben Fountain’s amazing novel, we believed it would be the foundation for a seminal movie. Film4 and TriStar have been wonderful development partners. Simon Beaufoy did a terrific job and Ang’s vision for the film is groundbreaking and extraordinary.”

(Photo Credit: Dave Bedrosian/Future Image/WENN.com)