'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' director to helm prison riot drama

Doug Liman is going behind bars for an upcoming bigscreen project.

The “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” helmer will direct the indie “Attica” from a screenplay being written by Academy Award nominee Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”).

Dubbed an insider’s view of the 1971 Attica state prison rebellion, the film will chronicle the bloodiest prison riot in U.S. history — an event that captivated the nation over the course of the four-day standoff — and the controversy that followed.

The project is a deeply personal one for Liman. His father, Arthur Liman, was chief counsel to the New York State Special Commission on Attica Prison and co-authored the commission’s report chastising then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and prison authorities for their share of responsibility for the riot’s toll; 32 inmates and 10 hostages were killed, 39 of them in an assault by state police officers.

“My father’s report literally reads like a page turner,” Liman said. “It is filled with stories of guards and prisoners from vastly different backgrounds learning to trust each other in the face of real human tragedy.”

Liman and David Bartis are producing via their Hypnotic banner along with Elliot Abbott, who is also financing the project’s development. Longtime Liman collaborator Avram Ludwig will also produce.

Liman, whose helming credits include “The Bourne Identity,” recently directed “Fair Game,” starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.

CAAis handling the film’s domestic distribution rights.

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