Jaume Collet-Serra is one of the more under-appreciated commercial filmmakers in Hollywood, but clearly Megan Ellison has been paying attention, as Annapurna Pictures has hired him to direct WACO, a drama about the 51-day standoff between law enforcement and the Branch Davidians, led by the charismatic but manipulative David Koresh.
Oscar winner Mark Boal co-wrote the script with Marc Haines (Kubo and the Two Strings). Boal and his Page 1 partners Hugo Lindgren and Jon Leven will produce the film with Ellison and her Annapurna cohort Matthew Budman.
The Waco movie comes on the heels of an event series from the Weinstein Company that tackles the same subject matter and stars Taylor Kitsch as Koresh, along with Michael Shannon, John Leguizamo, Andrea Riseborough, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim, Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Paul Sparks and Melissa Benoist as Koresh’s wife.
Annapurna will have to really up the star power to eclipse the Waco series, and that starts with Koresh. As I’ve tweeted before, I think Paul Dano or Shia LaBeouf would make an excellent Koresh, but so would Matthew Rhys or if you want to go even older, the ageless Billy Crudup.
Collet-Serra expects to start shooting Waco later this year. He’s coming off the stylish shark movie The Shallows, and has another Liam Neeson thriller, The Commuter, coming out next year. Waco may be a bit more dramatic than the B-movie material he has elevated over the years, but I think he’s a strong fit for the project.
Annapurna and Page 1 have Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit opening on Aug. 4. Oddly enough, that film seems to share similar themes with Waco, which was also a frightening chapter in American history back in 1993, leaving 76 bodies in its wake.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief