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EXCLUSIVE: Since the beginning of the year, no studio has been more aggressive in the market than MGM, and it looks like it’s about to get another coveted package. Sources tell . that MGM is in talks to acquire Combat Control, which tells the true story of Medalist John Chapman with Jake Gyllenhaal on board to play the late war hero. Sam Hargrave, who has become one of the hottest directors in town after his action picture Extraction broke Netflix records last April, will lead the picture. His longtime associate Shelby Malone will associate products. Gyllenhaal is an executive producer.
The Hideaway Entertainment will co-produce with Jonathan Gray, Hideaway CEO, President Matthew Rhodes and VP Kristy Grisham. Ryan Cassells, executive of Hideaway, will serve as executive producer. Marking a reunion for Rhodes and Gyllenhaal, who worked together when Rhodes was president of Bold Films, the film released the Oscar-nominated Nightcrawler, which became one of Gyllenhaal’s top-rated achievements of his career.
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Thruline Entertainment’s Ron West is also the producer on the project. He brought the manuscript of the book to The Hideaway Entertainment before the book was published, and Hideaway selected the property in a heated bidding war.
Based on the New York Times bestseller Alone at Dawn by Dan Schilling and Lori Chapman Longfritz, Hideaway Entertainment recently commissioned Michael Russell Gunn to adapt the script. Shortly thereafter, while the script was being developed by the producers, the book was published and became a New York Times bestseller. Schilling is the film’s military advisor and, like John Chapman, was also a Combat Control Technician (CCT).
Based on the true story of Air Force Combat Technician (CCT) Chapman, who died in battle on March 4, 2002 during the war in Afghanistan. After his death, no one suspected that it would be over a decade before the truth about what was really happening on this snow-capped mountainside emerged. Fifteen years later, the story tells of the “Medal of Honor” investigation by Cora Alexander, an Air Force captain who has the almost impossible task of proving that John Chapman is a worthy recipient, even though he has no eyewitnesses for his actions, and that strictly secret has world about secret operations. Alexander must uncover the truth, and by revealing Chapman’s sacrifice to the world, she forges her own path to self-forgiveness and personal salvation. When Chapman received the military’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor (MOH), on August 22, 2018, the US government allowed the public to publish his story and that of the highly ranked Combat Controllers (CCT). For the first time the world got a glimpse of the smallest, most mysterious, yet most highly decorated unit of the US military. This MOH was the first to be awarded to a CCT in U.S. history and the first to be awarded to a member of the Air Force since Vietnam.
The producers are now beginning their thorough search for the actress who will play Alexander. “Endeavor Content completed the sale to MGM. Reed Smith’s attorney Christian Simonds negotiated on behalf of The Hideaway Entertainment.
The sale would mark another big win for the studio, which has been aggressive in the market over the past few months, including the Peggy Lee biopic Fever starring Michelle Williams and the Darren Aronofsky thriller Adrift starring Jared Leto.
As for Gyllenhaal, the project gives him another strong role that has what it takes to be a future contender for the awards season. Gyllenhaal has also been busy figuring out his future plan, starting with the thriller The Guilty, which brings him together with his Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua, whom he finished filming last winter. He is currently shooting the Michael Bay action picture Ambulance, in which Eiza Gonzalez and Yaya Abdul-Mateen also star.
He recently signed up to star on the HBO series The Son with prison helper Denis VIlleneuve. He was also nominated for a Tony Award for Sea Wall / A Life and was nominated for a Tony for Producer of Slave Play.
Hargraves star is on the rise after directing the Netflix action hit Extraction with Chris Hemsworth. Following its premiere last April, Netflix announced it had broken television records over the weekend, and the streamer quickly announced a sequel with Hargrave on board to return. Since then, every studio in town has been keen to work with him after he put his skills to the test, especially when it came to formidable action set pieces.
The Hideaway Entertainment recently funded and produced AppleTV’s Cherry (along with AGBO). Gunn started out as a protégé of Aaron Sorkin and spent two seasons in the newsroom. He is currently supervising producer for billions.
Hargrave and Gyllenhaal are represented by WME.