Do you see a big commercial play on Osama Bin Laden? Hollywood has seen reverberating stories about turning the news into a fascinating movie. Independent financiers like Larry Ellison’s daughter Megan Ellison are already putting together a crew and as much as $20-$25 million to shoot as early as this summer.

So what makes the Bin Laden story attractive to filmmakers around the world? First of all, he’s quite a character with a rich family and national history hanging down his neck. Second of all, the killing of Osama Bin Laden marks one of the most satisfying military tales in US forces’ history.

Many pundits such as CBS’ Lara Logan are willing to make the connection between Bin Laden’s death and the film world, comparing it to Black Hawk Down and Valkyrie. But isn’t it tough to make a story suspenseful when everyone on the planet knows how it ends?

But just because we know how the story ends doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting or exciting. Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow, the writer-director team behind The Hurt Locker, agree it should be done. Already deep in making a movie that is based on a book about the search for Bin Laden in Tora Bora after 9/11 – a manhunt with a rather different feel and finish, Kathryn is plunging for the new title, The Killing of Bin Laden. The re-titled film will therefore get a new context and a new ending in the wake of Sunday’s news.

But are there any potential traps? Will a movie of this nature be doomed at the box-office like the holes that a host of Iraq and Afghanistan war movies have punched in box office pockets? Rest assured, with the fortune that Fast Five has raked in, the box office is once again ready for something with a lot of action that the audience can cheer for. Hollywood can make two versions, the US version of the film, and one that Sylvester Stallone could adapt, with only some liberties, for the upcoming Expendables sequel.

Others in Hollywood, including Bryan Singer who directed Valkyrie — the 2008 Tom Cruise movie about an elite group conspiring to kill Hitler — said they saw in the Bin Laden saga a chance for something more detailed and character-driven.

Another director keeps coming to mind, Quentin Tarantino. If I want to see a movie about Bin Laden, I want to see The Inglorious Bin Laden or The Bin Basterds. At least then I don’t know what to expect at every turn. In addition, its unique light-heartedness could infuse a much needed dose of humor and alleviate the seriousness with which we tackle issues of terrorism and war.

However when you factor in the big price at the end of it all, the Oscar, and the propensity of the Oscars in general to favor serious political and historical plots, it is easy to see why Quentin Tarantino will be at the end of the long queue of filmmakers that would be immediately funded to make such a movie.

Perhaps the propinquity of the serious politics ongoing in the world would not permit a fictional characterization of Bin Laden and the forces that killed him.

Only one question remains. Whatever the frenzy that grips filmmakers right now, and whatever movie comes out on this subject, will the box office make that connection between Bin Laden and the big screen?


  1. I think Hollywood should stay away from this one until the war on terrorism is over. Unless this is going to be a campaign for the army.

  2. This is real. For once we can have a movie where American forces come up on top – and it’s not fiction! This is great news. We won this one, we didn’t draw. If we make movies about wars that we lost and drew, why not make a movie on one that we absolutely have a victory?

  3. Hollywood needs to be circumspect about the war on terrorism. They should act like it’s their war too! I wonder if they’ve considered the political and religious implications of making a movie like this so quickly.
    Are we still at the point in our dear civilization where we celebrate killing like the Romans did? Yes, Osama brutally murdered so many innocent Americans, and we should be sad and forever wary of the threat that terrorism poses to us. But celebrating this news is no different than the celebrations we saw on TV from some Islamic groups when the twin towers fell.
    We need to show them a moral high ground. We need to teach them and above all civilize them. And the way to do that is to stay focused on beating this war. We cannot do that until we have a full conviction that the world is sick and we need to fix it. Jubilating our enemies death is quite below that moral high ground. We need to feel even more sorry that the world is the way it is, that our fellow country men (our dear soldiers) have to die in order to fix it. That America have to give up so much to get this man!

  4. Hollywood is as separate from Government as Religion. Hollywood should do whatever the hell they want. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks of US? In beating this war, we cannot keep factoring in what others think.
    ‘Cos if Barrack had considered what Pakistan thought about his plan, Bin Laden would have still been on the run today.

  5. “But isn’t it tough to make a story suspenseful when everyone on the planet knows how it ends?” James Cameron certainly did it with TItanic but I guess the love story gave it a different twist.
    And you’re right, everyone likes to jump on the hot news story — which is also why a spec script romance between a commoner and a royal just sold for lots of $$. But I think a movie on this topic would be very premature. Not to mention it would anger many people around the world. But I don’t Hollywood execs care much about feelings, only revenue and blockbusters.


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