By Edward Davis | The Playlist February 6, 2012 at 1:39PM
Last week, one of our eagle-eyed writers noticed that the generally secretive Annapurna Pictures website had listed Spike Jonze’s latest film as “in production.” Intrigued, we immediately shot off emails to Annapurna reps (the company itself does not answer questions about its production by phone). We heard nothing back until the next day when Deadline reported that Spike Jonze’s latest project, an self-penned, untitled quirky romance picture, was looking to cast Joaquin Phoenix, Carey Mulligan, Amy Adams and Samantha Morton. Coincidence? Possibly, but we’re not sitting around waiting for this one to slip through either.
Also on Annapurna’s website is a notice that the police drama “Triple Nine” is in “pre-production” right along with it, is a picture of “The Road” director John Hillcoat. Now Hillcoat was attached to this Matt Cook- penned Black List script in the summer of 2010 with Shia LaBeouf linked to star. However, Hillcoat was at that point already in pre-production on his first iteration of “The Wettest County In The World” (then called “The Promised Land,” with an entirely different cast). Financing on “The Wettest County” (it's truncated new title) fell apart in early 2010, only to be resurrected by Megan Ellison’s fledling boutique company Annapurna Pictures at the very end of the year. None of the original cast remained outside of LaBeouf.
So, with ‘Wettest County’ arriving in theaters this August, was the collaboration strong enough that LaBeouf and Hillcoat will continue the experience on “Triple Nine”? Last year LaBeouf said, " ‘Wettest’ is the first time [my pr and management even asked me what kind of movie I wanted to make],” he told the LA Times last year. “I’ve been running for a team of people for a long time and I don’t take any of it back…I’ve learned a great deal about a certain type of filmmaking. But I have ambitions toward another type of filmmaking that I haven’t been allowed to engage in yet.” If anything, it sounds like LaBeouf is going to exercise his arthouse muscles before he goes back to another Michael Bay-led “Transformers” film or similarly-sized blockbuster. Perhaps it's no surprise either he recently circled back to "The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman."
“Triple Nine” centers on a group of crooked L.A. police officers who realize they must shoot one of their own in order to get away with planning a major heist. They choose as their victim, the script’s lead character, a rookie and honorable young officer. Triple nine is the police code that signifies that an officer is down and needs urgent and immediate assistance.
LaBeouf was initially set to play that lead character so it’s possible he could still be attached. Other actors rumored to be involved with the early version of the film were Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, as the lead’s grizzly mentor character, but never officially on board, it remains to be seen if they would still be involved (though Bridges is listed in the cast on The New York Times website, though that info may be old).
Hillcoat was attached to several projects in 2010 including “The Revenant” and “Le Circle Rouge,” which he eventually left and its our understanding was that at one point he had abandoned “Triple Nine” as well, so it’s good to hear that it’s potentially coming together soon (and we read the script and it’s a solid “Training Day”-like L.A. cop flick). The early version of “Triple Nine” was said to be a project that Warner Bros. was circling, but no word if they'll be still involved in any capacity.
Inquiries to CAA, who rep Hillcoat, were not returned and Annapurna is always going to stay mum, outside of whatever they’re posting on their website or tweeting. Hopefully we'll hear something more between now and the release of Hillcoat & LaBoeuf's "The Wettest County," which hits theaters on August 31st.