Disney and Beacon Pictures have set Taylor Hackford to direct Good Luck, Mr. Anthony, a fact-based film about the South African game preserve owner who snuck into Iraq after the war began in 2003 and rescued the animals in the Baghdad Zoo.
Variety says Beacon chairman Aryman Bernstein wrote the script with Terry Jastrow. Bernstein will produce. Bernstein’s Beacon partner, Charlie Lyons, will executive produce.
The film tells the story of Lawrence Anthony, who owns and operates Thula Thula, a game preserve in South Africa. While watching the invasion of Iraq, he recalled that when wars begin, zoo animals are usually killed or die of neglect.
Crossing the border from Kuwait seven days after the start of the U.S.-led invasion, Anthony found the zoo, where half of the 1,000 animals had already died. Engaging mercenaries to battle insurgents and poachers, Anthony rallied the zoo staff to return and protected the animals with the help of other local people. Anthony stayed in Baghdad for six months.
Hackford last directed 2004’s Ray. Bernstein last scripted 1999’s The Hurricane with Dan Gordon.