Ang Lee to Direct 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' for TriStar and Studio 8

Frank W. Ockenfels 3

Studio 8, together with Chinese distribution company Bona Film Group, is partnering with Tom Rothman's TriStar and Film4 on the project

For its first project under its deal with Sony Pictures, Jeff Robinov's Studio 8 has come aboard the film adaptation of Ben Fountain's novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which Ang Lee is directing.

Robinov's Fosun-backed Studio 8, together with Chinese distribution company Bona Film Group, is partnering with Tom Rothman's TriStar and Film4 on the project, which will begin principal photography in mid-April. Casting is already underway. Sony Pictures, where Studio 8 and TriStar are both based, will distribute the film worldwide, except for Greater China, which Bona Find Group Ltd. will handle. Film 4 has taken U.K. free television rights.

Halftime Walk will be produced by Marc Platt, Ink Factory's Stephen Cornwell, Rhodri Thomas and Simon Cornwell, and Lee. It is being made in association with Film4, which developed the original draft of the script with Simon Beaufoy. Current screenplay revisions are by Jean-Christopher Castelli.

The film revolves around a 19-year-old private, who survives a battle in Iraq that is captured by news cameras. He and his company of soldiers are brought back to the U.S. for a promotional tour culminating in a halftime show at a Thanksgiving Day football game. Most of the movie takes place during the day of the game, with flashbacks to the wartime events.

Lee, who shot his last film, 2012's Life of Pi, in 3D, plans to further push the technological envelope with this new film. He will use the Sony F65 camera to shoot in native 3D and high resolution, with an ultra-high frame rate in order to heighten the audience's participation in the soldiers' experience on the battlefield and on the home front, the studio said.

"Ang is pushing the envelope even beyond what we achieved in Life of Pi," Rothman said. "Innovation is key to getting audiences out to cinemas now, but such advances often take a brave village. I have long admired Jeff personally and have great respect for Studio 8 and Bona. It's a neat fit, as we are all in the business of trying to do cool things for Sony, not to mention we park right next to each other."

Robinov commented, "Ang Lee's vision for this remarkable story is incredibly exciting to all of the partners involved and perfectly captures the types of filmmaker-driven movies we want to make at Studio 8. We are thankful that Tom Rothman included us in this fantastic project and are looking forward to working on this together."

Studio 8, based on the SPE lot, is funded in partnership with the Chinese investment management firm Fosun Group and with SPE, which will distribute up to six films worldwide annually. It also has secured $1 billion in financing.