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Helmer sees U’s ‘Sunlight’

Pic produced by Playtone's Hanks, Goetzman

Universal Pictures has set Paul Greengrass to write and direct “They Marched Into Sunlight,” an adaptation of the Vietnam War-era book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning David Maraniss.

The pic will be produced by Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.

The book focuses on parallel stories that took place on two days in October 1967. On one side of the world, U. of Wisconsin students protested against Dow Chemical for its production of napalm. The peaceful antiwar demonstration escalated into a riot. At the same time, a platoon of U.S. soldiers was ambushed by Viet Cong. A fierce firefight claimed the lives of 61 Americans. The two unconnected events galvanized opposition to the war on college campuses.

U vice chairman of worldwide production Mary Parent and senior veep Dylan Clark will shepherd the project. Playtone’s Hanks and Goetzman bought the book with their coin, and U acquired it from them through their first-look deal with the studio.

Maraniss, a Pulitzer-winning reporter and editor at the Washington Post, was a Pulitzer finalist for his book.

While Greengrass’ first studio directing job was “The Bourne Supremacy,” he has experience with politically charged storylines. His breakthrough film was 2002’s “Bloody Sunday,” a docu-style drama about a protest march in Northern Ireland that turned into a bloodbath. Greengrass wrote and directed that film.

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