Long before Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper stole the limelight, not to mention a few Oscar nominations in the process, there was another director at the helm: Steven Spielberg.
It was back in 2013 when Spielberg was on board to oversee the project and at the time, Bradley Cooper was still attached to produce and star as Chris Kyle, the most decorated sniper in US military history. Alas, the reasoning behind the director’s departure wasn’t disclosed, though reports did suggest that the prestigious filmmaker simply couldn’t engineer his vision of Kyle’s memoir based on the budget at the time.
Fast forward to the present day and The Hollywood Reporter has offered up our first clue as to what American Sniper could have been had Spielberg remained in the director’s chair. There are some considerable changes buried within the extract, specifically in relation to how the director would have handled the enemy sniper (Mustafa) quite differently, fleshing out the backstory behind the Olympic sharpshooter and, ultimately, positioning him as a more formidable threat to Cooper’s protagonist.
For a few months…it looked as if Steven Spielberg would be directing American Sniper. Spielberg had read Kyle’s book and Hall’s screenplay and was willing to commit to it as his next movie, with DreamWorks co-producing. But he had some ideas of his own. For one thing, he wanted to focus more on the “enemy sniper” in the script — the insurgent sharpshooter who was trying to track down and kill Kyle. “He was a mirror of Chris on the other side,” Hall explains of Spielberg’s vision. “It was a psychological duel as much as a physical duel. It was buried in my script, but Steven helped bring it out.”
As Spielberg added more and more ideas to the story, the page count continued to grow, bloating to 160. Warner Bros.’ budget for the film, though, remained a slender $60 million. Ultimately, Spielberg felt he couldn’t bring his vision of the story to the screen for that amount of money and dropped out of the project. Within a week, Warner Bros. president Greg Silverman, one of the three executives who run the studio, asked domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman to call Clint Eastwood.
American Sniper is in cinemas now and, thanks to 6 Oscar nods and a wave of overwhelmingly positive word of mouth, Clint Eastwood’s war drama grossed over $100 million on its opening weekend — a January record. To find out if the picture lives up to this billing, you can check out our own review.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter