'American Sniper' Effect: Rival Benghazi Movies Aim to Capitalize on War-Film Trend

Michael Bay Dana Brunetti Split - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Michael Bay Dana Brunetti Split - H 2015

Michael Bay and 'Fifty Shades of Grey' producer Dana Brunetti have dueling projects in the works, and 'Sniper's' $307 million domestic haul (and counting) has provided incentive to move quickly.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The race to win Benghazi is on. Dueling films are in the works about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American compound in Libya's second-largest city that left U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and several others dead.

Michael Bay was first out of the gate, striking a deal in the fall with Paramount to adapt Mitchell Zuckoff's nonfiction tome 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, about the heroic efforts of the small security force. John Krasinski is starring. It turns out, though, that Bay wasn't the only one with the idea: Relativity and Fifty Shades of Grey producer Dana Brunetti revealed recently that they've acquired life rights to security team members Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, Navy SEALs turned CIA contract workers who died helping save more than 30 Americans.

"[Bay's] movie is about the unfolding of events on the ground. Ours is more a story of brotherhood and camaraderie," says Relativity president of production Robbie Brenner. Both Benghazi movies were in the works before American Sniper became a box-office sensation, but there is no doubt that film's $307 million domestic haul (and counting) has provided incentive to move quickly. "People see that there is clearly an audience for movies about heroes and modern-day war," says Brenner, adding that Relativity will wait for the script to be finished before hiring a director. That means Bay and Paramount practically are assured of being first to the big screen because 13 Hours could be in production by summer.