At least one major studio is thinking about bringing the Benghazi tragedy to the big screen.
In the last year Paramount has brought out films as diverse as The Wolf of Wall Street and Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa. Now, Deadline Hollywood reports, the studio is “negotiating with 3 Arts Entertainment to acquire the film rights to the forthcoming book Thirteen Hours: A Firsthand Account Of What Really Happened In Benghazi.
The book, slated for release this spring purportedly offers a play-by-play of the firefight as told by surviving members of the compound security team. An eye-witness account of the slaughter of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans is the very stuff of drama. And how Hollywood chooses to handle this hot topic is sure to spur speculation and controversy.
For starters, the timing of film will be interesting. At least two major characters involved in the Benghazi crisis and its aftermath, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have been talked-up as future presidential candidates. A film that comes out in the middle of primary season might spice up the race a bit.
This would be far from the first time films and politics made for a wicked cocktail. Concerned that their film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty (2012), would be perceived as a crass commercial for President Obama’s 2011 reelection campaign, the producers made rounds on the Hill explaining to lawmakers that they were just making a movie. Ultimately, they delayed the release of the film until after the election to dodge the controversy.
Coincidentally timed films are nothing new. The 1941 biopic Sergeant York retold the story of America’s most famous World War I combat hero. Though wildly popular, the movie deeply rankled some in Washington. The Senate even held hearings on “Moving-Picture and Radio Propaganda.” At one hearing, isolationist Sen. D. Worth Clark (D-Ida.), who wanted to keep America out of World War II, railed against the film’s producers, declaring “at the present time they have opened those 17,000 theaters to the idea of war, to the glorification of war, to the glorification of England’s imperialism, to the hatred of the people of Germany and now of France, to the hatred of those in America who disagree with them….”
Of course, Warner Brothers loved the attention. Sergeant York was the highest grossing film of the year.