Director Chris Kentis and producer Laura Lau made a big indie-level splash with Open Water, which was about a husband and wife stranded in the ocean and defenseless against sharks, who eventually eat them. And now in the latest example of “duh”-level associative thinking in corporate Hollywood, Warner Bros. has hired Kentis and Lau to write and direct Indianapolis, an adaptation of the Douglas Stanton book “In Harm’s Way” about 900 sailors who went into the Phillipine Sea in July 1945 after their ship sank, leaving them stranded and defenseless against sharks.
Before rescuers arrived four days later, 587 guys sailors were dead, the majority of these due to jagged teeth and terrible chompings.
Michael Fleming‘s story about the Kentis-Lau deal says Warner Bros. “has tried several versions — Mel Gibson almost starred five years ago for director Barry Levinson — and Universal has a rival project that J.J. Abrams is eyeing based on the story of a youth whose school research project helped force a posthumous reconsideration of the ship’s court-martialed captain, Charles McVay.”
Fleming doesn’t mention that one of the screenwriters on the WB Indianapolis project was Donnie Darko/Southland Tales director-writer Richard Kelly. In March 2005 I wrote in a Radar magazine profile of Kelly that “his most recent gig was writing a screenplay for a $100 million, special-effects-heavy World War II film about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Kelly calls it √É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√Ö‚Äúthe tightest thing I√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢ve ever written.√É¬¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√Ç¬ù
“Because of the 317 men who lived,” I added, “Kelly has titled his WWII script Optimistic.”