Variety reports that Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, the husband-and-wife team behind 2003's vérité-style shark thriller OPEN WATER, have been hooked by Warner Bros. for a much bigger-scale but similarly themed project. Kentis will direct and the duo will write INDIANAPOLIS, a dramatization of the real-life 1945 incident (memorably recounted by Robert Shaw in JAWS) in which the crew of the U.S.S. Indianapolis was stranded in the ocean at the mercy of the predators when the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese sub after delivering the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima.
Based on Douglas Stanton's book IN HARM'S WAY, the movie will be produced by Lau, Mark Gordon, Akiva Goldsman and Betsy Beers, and will explore not only the sailors' terrifying ordeal but the reasons they went without rescue for so long (only 317 of nearly 1,000 survived), and the subsequent scapegoating and court-martialing of the captain, Charles McVay.
"Being a diver and a WWII buff, this is a story that long haunted me," Kentis tells the trade of the Indianapolis saga, which inspired him and Lau in creating OPEN WATER. That film, he says, was about "two ordinary people who were oblivious to the dangers of nature until they were caught up in it. This is a story of heroism and selflessness, one that gives us the chance to consider that in a dire situation, you can't predict how people are going to react and who is going to emerge as that heroic figure." Warners has long been developing this project, to which director Barry Levinson and actor Mel Gibson were once attached; now they have to beat a rival Universal film, which focuses on a young student's campaign to clear McVay's name, to get before the cameras.