‘Sun’ rises as ‘Flags’ followup

Questions surround Eastwood's Iwo Jima projects

If critics are faulting Steven Spielberg for not taking a stand in his political drama “Munich,” what will they be saying about Clint Eastwood next year, when the director releases two year-end pics on the same subject — the battle of Iwo Jima — one told from the American perspective, the other from the Japanese?

Eastwood decided to broaden his canvas after he started researching “Flags of Our Fathers” (the Yank version), and realized one story about the WWII clash wouldn’t suffice.

Much is yet to be decided about the two films’ releases, but dual pics means dual headaches — or at least major questions — for DreamWorks and Warner Bros., which are partners on both films.

For example, how will the back-to-back releases actually work? Would they roll out in the same time span, or get some breathing room between titles?

And if the plan to release the films this fall is to be realized, it means a hectic production schedule for Eastwood, who just wrapped “Flags” and will start shooting “Red Sun, Black Sand” (the Japanese version) in March. The famously efficient helmer still has to work out the logistics and lock down permission from the Japanese government to shoot on Iwo Jima.

Japanese-American screenwriter Iris Yamashita is writing the film, in consultation with Paul Haggis, who scripted “Flags.” And word is that Ken Watanabe will star.

Come awards time 2007, at least Warners and DreamWorks can count on double the pic presence for their twofold efforts.

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