Oliver Stone is heading back to Vietnam.
He is closing a deal with United Artists to finance “Pinkville,” a drama about the investigation of the 1968 My Lai massacre that he would direct. Pic would be distributed through MGM.
Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum will star. Mikko Alanne wrote the script.
A UA commitment could be finalized this week, putting the picture into production by early next year, with a budget of roughly $40 million.
It marks the fourth time Stone has directed a film set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, following Oscar winner “Platoon,” “Heaven & Earth” and “Born on the Fourth of July.” “Pinkville” also reunites the director with Tom Cruise, who starred in “Born on the Fourth of July” and who, with partner Paula Wagner, is now a co-owner of UA.
Willis will play Army Gen. William R. Peers, who supervised the investigation into the massacre by U.S. soldiers of as many as 500 My Lai villagers, most of them unarmed women, children and elderly.
Tatum will play Hugh Thompson, a helicopter pilot who, upon realizing what was happening below, put a stop to the killing by placing his craft between gunmen and the few villagers who were left, and telling his two shipmates to fire on the soldiers if they shot any more people. They airlifted the survivors and reported the carnage to superiors.
Pinkville is the description on a military map for the region where My Lai is.
Stone had been expected to follow “World Trade Center” with a drama about the CIA’s attempt to catch Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan after 9/11.
Instead, he will tackle “Pinkville,” which is set up as a mystery but explores the themes of barbarism and heroism. Thompson was initially excoriated for his actions, while Peers’ revelation of one of the most atrocious acts in U.S. military history (and subsequent military cover-up) helped galvanize opposition to the war.
Alanne, who wrote and directed the 1997 docu “Voice of Dissent” about the LAPD and the murder of Sen. Robert Kennedy, most recently scripted “Notorious,” about the killings of rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur.