Director grabs rights to WWII thriller

Spike Lee is returning to a WWII setting, picking up the rights to Brendan Koerner’s manhunt tale “Now the Hell Will Start” for his shingle 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks to produce.

Nonfiction thriller, subtitled “One Soldier’s Flight From the Greatest Manhunt of World War II,” recounts the story of an African-American soldier who murdered his lieutenant and then fled into the Burmese jungle.

Book uses the soldier’s story to explore how the U.S. military considered African-Americans unfit for combat and shipped thousands to India in 1944 to build the Ledo Road, a 500-mile project that extended through mountains into China.

Penguin Press published the book last year. It’s the first from Koerner, a contributing editor for Wired magazine and columnist for the New York Times and Slate magazine.

Lee’s docu “Passing Strange” recently unspooled at the Sundance Film Festival.

His feature “Miracle at St. Anna,” based on a novel about members of the U.S. Army’s 92nd Division of all-black Buffalo Soldiers who become trapped in Italy during WWII, bowed last year through Disney’s Touchstone banner.

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