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Butler, Worthington, McConaughey hear ‘Thunder’

Thesps board Baghdad blitz tale; Simon West to helm

Freedom Films is going to Iraq, tapping Gerard Butler, Sam Worthington and Matthew McConaughey to topline “Thunder Run” with Simon West set to direct the story of the capture of Baghdad in 2003.

Brian Presley, CEO of Freedom Films, made the announcement Thursday. Presley will produce alongside Carissa Buffel and Kevin Matusow of Freedom Films and Jib Polhemus of The Graphic Film Company.

Hyde Park Intl. has signed on for international sales at the American Film Market.

Movie, to be shown in 3D, is based on the novel “Thunder Run — The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad,” by David Zucchino. Robert Port and Ken Nolan, screenwriter of “Black Hawk Down,” will adapt.

Producers said the Graphic Film Company will utilize proprietary facial-capture technology they used on West’s upcoming “Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3-D” along with the motion capture technology used in “Avatar.”

Pressley said “Thunder Run’ “will be the first conventional war film made to utilize the particular facial and motion capture technology along with state-of-the-art CG and 3D.” He said he’s been working with West for the past five years on the project.

“Thunder Run” will focus on three battalions and the fewer than 1,000 men launching a thrust of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles into Baghdad in April 2003. That assault was the opening of a three-day blitzkrieg, which military professionals often refer to as a lightning strike, or “thunder run.”

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