files/pictures/picture-35.jpgRichard LaGravenese, who adapted Sara Gruen's WATER FOR ELEPHANTS into a screenplay, has been hired by Universal to adapt Laura Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN: A WORLD WAR II STORY OF SURVIVAL, RESILIENCE, AND REDEMPTION, reports Deadline.com
. The book is the survival story of Louis Zamperini, a track phenomenon who became a WWII POW.
Zamperini's remarkable story begins with his troubled youth during the Depression. He went on to impress observers as the youngest ever U.S. team runner at the 1936 Olympics. World War II dashed his hopes at the 1940 games though, having drafted him into the Air Force. He subsequently crashed into the Pacific where he survived the elements, near starvation and sharks until he was picked up by the Japanese and put into a brutal prison camp. Later he has tortured by Japanese officer Mutsuhiro Watanabe until the end of the war, never breaking. After the war, he sunk into alcoholism and was consumed with nightmares. He decided to go to Japan and hunt down his tormentors, but his wife took him to see Billy Graham, which inspired him to forgive them instead, eventually meeting many of them in person.
Francis Lawrence (WATER FOR ELEPHANTS) is set to direct. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are the producers with Lawrence and Mick Garris (Zamperini's son-in-law) are exec producing.
Universal first planned to make Zamperini's tale in 1957 with Tony Curtis, but it stalled. Then in 1998, CBS aired a segment on Zamperini during the Nagano Olympics broadcast that sparked interest from Nicolas Cage. Universal attracted Antoine Fuqua to direct and Robert Schenkkan and Neil Tolkin both took a crack at the script, but the project never took off.