Wagner, Cuban to finance film

After co-writing the WWII drama “Valkyrie,” Chris McQuarrie has turned to writing the WWI drama “No Man’s Land.” The battlefield drama is being mounted as a co-production between 2929 Prods. and Spitfire Pictures, and the film will be financed by 2929 Entertainment partners Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban.

Nigel Sinclair and Guy East will produce, and their Spitfire is co-financing development with 2929. Wagner and Cuban are exec producing with 2929 Prods. prexy Marc Butan.

Wagner and Cuban just financed the James Gray-directed “We Own the Night” and completed it before making a deal with Sony at Cannes.

“No Man’s Land” will be a much larger-budget undertaking, and it is likely that Spitfire will arrange some of the coin through offshore presales.

“No Man’s Land” will use three fictional characters to illustrate the complex reasons why the various European powers chose sides to fight WWI, and how the use of machine guns, tanks and other technology led to unimaginable carnage.

The drama will focus on three characters: an American ambulance driver in France who joins the French Foreign Legion and eventually fights for the Americans when the U.S. enters the war; a British soldier wrongly accused of cowardice; and a German soldier mired in the trenches.

The project was hatched from an idea by Spitfire’s Sinclair, who initially engaged scribe Larry Ramin. McQuarrie, a WWI buff, took the story and has transformed it into an epic-sized undertaking he hopes will follow in the tradition of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Gallipoli” and “Paths of Glory.”

“The First World War has been effectively depicted, but I’ve never seen it adequately explained,” McQuarrie told Daily Variety. “WWII and every war since then are simply aftershocks of that Great War.”

Among the conflicts depicted will be the Battle of the Somme in 1916. British troops fired 1 million rounds and then charged, only to discover the Germans lying in wait in tunnels; 19,000 British troops were killed by German machine gun fire.

“WWI was the birth of modern warfare,” McQuarrie said from Germany, where he is producing “Valkyrie.” He’ll complete the script for “No Man’s Land” before heading off the direct “The Stanford Prison Experiment” for Maverick Films and Infinity Features.

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