After Lincoln became a surprising international blockbuster (grossing $270 million worldwide), Steven Spielberg seemed to reevaluate his plans for the future. Although he was just months away from shooting Robopocalypse, he put that project on hold, signed on as president of the Cannes jury, and considered other projects. As Spielberg prepares for his Cannes duties later this month, Variety has reported that he will direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper. This film is based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, “the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history” (according to the full title of his book). Kyle is said to have killed more than 150 people before leaving the military in 2009. Earlier this year, he was murdered by a fellow veteran at a Texas shooting range.
While it would seem like an impressive feat for Cooper to be cast in a Spielberg film, the casting process seems to have worked in reverse. In collaboration with Mad Chance Productions, Cooper’s production company (22nd & Indiana Pictures) acquired the rights to Kyle’s book last year. After commissioning a script by Jason Hall—who wrote the upcoming Harrison Ford vehicle, Paranoia—Cooper’s company reached out to Spielberg, who now appears to be committed.
Some have speculated that this project might account for Cooper’s abrupt departure from Jane Got a Gun earlier this week, but it’s still not clear whether Cooper will be shooting American Sniper or his untitled Cameron Crowe project next. It’s also possible that Spielberg’s been in the mix for several months and this is the project that caused him to postpone Robopocalypse. (That would explain why he was photographed with Cooper in January.) In any case, it sounds like American Sniper is a return to the sensibilities of the director’s underrated 2005 gem Munich, arguably a much better use of his maturing talents than yet another crowd-pleasing sci-fi blockbuster.