Kathryn Bigelow's Bowe Bergdahl Movie & 7 Other Films That Were Just Too Soon
It was bound to happen — just maybe not this soon. On Tuesday, it was announced that not one, but two movies are set to be made about Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who was recently rescued after five years of Taliban captivity. First, there's the film (presumably a based-in-fact drama) being prepped by Kathryn Bigelow and her frequent collaborator, Mark Boal, both of whom would produce, alongside Megan Ellison. Then, there's the movie being made by Todd Field (Little Children), based on a 2012 Rolling Stone story about "America's Last Prisoner of War." So: which movie one is worth seeing?
Probably, both. Bigelow and Field are both extremely talented filmmakers, and it's hard to imagine that either of them could make a movie about this subject matter that's anything less than mesmerizing. Still, it's hard to get excited about the two films, at least not yet; Bergdahl has been free for less than three weeks, and already, Hollywood's cashing in on the drama. Yes, it'll still be awhile before the movies actually come out, but really, couldn't they have waited just a little bit longer?
Of course, it's not the first time that movies have taken the "current" aspect of current events a bit too seriously. Seven films that were made a bit too close in time to the stories that inspired them:
Inspired by: the manhunt for and capture of Osama bin Laden.
Length of time between event and announcement of movie: About zero days.
Too fast? It might seem that way, but actually, the timing of the film was pure coincidence for director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal. The two had planned to make a movie about the unsuccessful efforts to find bin Laden, and were about to begin filming when news broke that the terrorist had been killed. So they shelved their film, re-wrote the script, and the much happier ending Zero Dark Thirty came to be.
Inspired by: the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terror.
Length of time between event and announcement of movie: Less than two years.
Too fast? A little, but documentaries tend to get made faster in general. Most of the narrative films inspired by 9/11 didn't come for another few years, so Fahrenheit made quite an impact upon its release.
Inspired by: the terrifying, paranormal experiences of the Lutz family in Amityville, New York.
Length of time between event and announcement of movie: Two years.
Too fast? Normally, no, since this wasn't some huge, national tragedy. But if you were a member of the Lutz family, and had just gotten over the fact that a book had been written about you only a year and a half after the most traumatizing events of your life, only to learn that a movie was getting made, too? Too soon.
All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story
Inspired by: the story of Mary Kay Letourneau, the schoolteacher who was sentenced to jail for the statutory rape of her then-12-year-old student.
Length of time between event and announcement of movie: It's unknown when the film was first announced, but it was released in January 2000, three years after Letourneau's arrest.
Too fast? Perhaps not if the filmmakers were inspired by the actual arrest, but chances are, they didn't have movie on their minds until Letourneau's return to jail, birth of her child, and explosion of fame. In all likelihood, the earliest stages of production probably began less than a year after the teacher had garnered the world's attention.
Inspired by: the murder of Richard T. Davis, an Army specialist who was killed days after returning home from Iraq.
Length of time between event and announcement of movie: About a year.
Too fast? A bit. To be fair, the film was based on an a Playboy article written just a year after Davis' murder, so it can't take all the blame.
Inspired by: the hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates.
Length of time between event and announcement of movie: A year.
Too fast? Could be worse. The movie rights were optioned as soon as Captain Richard Phillips' memoir was released, but it was another three years until the movie hit theaters.
Jobs/Untitled Steve Jobs Movie
Inspired by: the life of Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011.
Length of time between event and announcement of movie: For Jobs, planning started before the Apple CEO had even died. The screenwriter started work during Jobs' medical leave during early-mid 2011. As for the untitled film, work got started pretty much as soon as the biography was released.
Too fast? Maybe not for the upcoming movie, but for Jobs, yes. They could've and should've taken more time, especially since the resulting film was so, so bad.
Images: Columbia; Lionsgate; American International; Warner Bros; Open Road Films