Peter Chernin‘s Chernin Entertainment and Bold Films are set to produce GUNNER, based on the reporting of the war in Iraq by Wall Street Journal‘s Michael M. Phillips. Jenno Topping will produce Gunner for Chernin while Jon Oaks will produce for Bold. Sources have also confirmed that Phil Alden Robinson will pen the screenplay about Marine Jason Dunham, who threw himself on top of a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers in 2003. The story follows how his family dealt with the grief after taking him off of life support.
Robinson, who wrote the Academy Award-nominated screenplay for 1990’s Field of Dreams, has the task of adapting the heroic story of Cpl. Dunham as told in an article written by Phillips in May 2004. While leading a 14-man squad in the town of Karabilah, the 22-year-old and his team came across insurgents. Cpl. Dunham had an altercation with one of the insurgents who had a hand grenade. He pulled the pin and dropped the grenade. That’s when Dunham let out a warning cry and placed his helmet and body on it to protect his squadmates.
Dunham suffered severe injuries and was unconscious. He was flown back stateside where his condition worsened. Dunham’s his father, Dan, an Air Force veteran, was put in charge of his medical decisions. After doctors told them Dunham would never regain consciousness, Dan and his wife, Deb made the decision to remove him from life support. His parents would eventually receive the Medal of Honor on his behalf.
In 2010, Phillips wrote a follow-up article about a former bomb-sniffing dog suffering from canine post-traumatic stress disorder named Gunner. When the Dunhams learned about the Gunner, they adopted him and helped nurse him back to emotional health. Gunner is giving the Dunhams a little bit back of what the lost and Gunner is receiving the emotional support that he deserves. Considering the name of the movie, the dog might hinge on the entire story.
Similar Iraqi war movies like The Hurt Locker, American Sniper, The Messenger, and Stop Loss have found ways of telling different stories about grieving, PTSD, and acclimating to life after war. The premise of Gunner parallels that of the upcoming film Leavey starring Kate Mara, Edie Falco, Common, and Tom Felton. Also based on a true story, the movie tells the story of Purple Heart recipient Megan Leavey, who spent six years cutting through bureaucratic red tape to adopt her dog Rex after they were both injured whilst disarming an IED in Iraq.
In addition to Field of Dreams, Robinson wrote and directed an episode of the epic World War II HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers. He is currently developing a Frank Sinatra biopic with Martin Scorsese and writing the film, All of Me. Chernin Entertainment is working on many titles including War for the Planet of the Apes, The Heat 2, and Red Sparrow. Bold Films, which produced Whiplash and Drive, is developing Robert Rodriguez’s Fire and Ice.
Robinson is repped by WME.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer