Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass has signed on to direct Universal‘s political thriller Night of Camp David, which follows the President of the United States as he becomes increasingly paranoid.
Bodyguard creator Jed Mercurio will adapt the 1965 book by Fletcher Knebel, and Greengrass will produce the film with his longtime collaborator Gregory Goodman, with whom he worked on Captain Phillips, 22 July and his latest movie, News of the World. Universal’s Matt Reilly will oversee the project on behalf of the studio, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news.
Knebel‘s book follows Iowa Senator Jim MacVeagh, who is summoned to Camp David by President Mark Hollenbach. MacVeagh, who is expected to become Hollenbach’s next Vice President, becomes concerned because Hollenbach shows signs of intense paranoia. He erratically expresses his desire to develop a closer relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union and attempts to cut ties with American allies in Europe. Hollenbach also believes the American news media are conspiring against him. MacVeagh is the only person who notices that Hollenbach’s mind is crumbling, as the presidential advisors and politicians he attempts to warn only ignore him. The sole person in possession of evidence of Hollenbach’s mental decline is his mistress, Rita.
Night of Camp David was re-published in 2018 in order to capitalize on events of the Trump presidency, and the material is clearly timely. I recall seeing the famous book jacket — “What Would Happen If The President Of The U.S.A. Went Stark-Raving Mad?” — in recent years and thinking, ‘well, look what’s happening to America right now!’
Sure enough, Universal spotted the similarities and recruited Greengrass to direct the movie, which is in line with his cinematic sensibilities, as demonstrated by films such as Captain Phillips, United 93 and Bloody Sunday.
Greengrass‘ News of the World is a solid Western starring Tom Hanks as Capt. Jefferson Kidd, who travels from town to town reading news headlines from around the world and agrees to escort an orphaned young girl (Helena Zengel) across dangerous terrain to her remaining family. The film earned four Oscar nominations for its below-the-line crafts work and is currently available to watch on VOD/digital platforms. I thought it was a strong if old-fashioned effort, though I’m not surprised it was ignored by Academy voters in major categories.