Hannibal seeks ‘Indianapolis’ crew

Studio to shop pic at Toronto fest

If Team Downey and Warner Bros. want their just-announced U.S.S. Indianapolis epic to be the first to sail at the B.O., they’d better go full-speed-ahead: Hannibal Classics has begun actively seeking a crew for “U.S.S Indianapolis: Men of Courage,” for which it has a completed script.

Budgeted at $30 million, the film is already out to several directors and casting is being explored.

Hannibal Classics will also be shopping the film at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival, representing it as sales agent and production company.

Script was co-written by Cam Cannon and Hannibal chairman and CEO Richard Rionda Del Castro. He’ll produce with Patricia Eberle, Richard Salvatore, Douglas W. Miller and Jeffrey Andrick; Tim Cavanaugh will exec produce.

On Wednesday, Robert and Susan Downey announced an untitled project under their Warner-based Team Downey shingle based on the life rights of Hunter Scott. At age 11, Scott helped posthumously exonerate commanding officer Charles McVay III, who was court-martialed for the 1945 naval disaster. That project, to be written by Robert Schenkkan (HBO’s “The Pacific”), will center on Scott’s efforts to clear McVay’s record, which proved successful in 2001.

Del Castro said his film would not explore the court martial and subsequent exoneration.

“Our film is an action-oriented homage to the brave crew of the U.S.S. Indianapolis,” Del Castro told Variety. “It is a testament to their will to survive in the face of certain death.”

On its return home from delivering parts for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese sub. Because its mission was secret, the ship was not reported missing, leading to the largest single loss of life in Navy history. Of 1,196 crewmen, 300 went down with the ship and nearly 500 more died as they swam for four days in shark-infested waters.

Many attempts have been made to dramatize those events, which the shark hunter Quint famously recalled in “Jaws.” A project went into development at Universal in 1998, with Chris Moore (“Good Will Hunting”) producing. In 2006, Robert Nelson Jacobs was tapped to pen a version with J.J. Abrams attached to direct.Playwright John B. Ferzacca wrote “The Failure to ZigZag” in 1978, and Stacy Keach played McVay in the 1991 made-for-TV movie “Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis.”

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