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Ang Lee will direct 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk'

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Ang Lee Long Halftime Walk
Jake Netter

Ang Lee never met a literary adaptation he couldn’t tackle, it seems. The multi-Oscar winner, who’s been largely absent since winning Best Director for Life of Pi, has picked his next project: Ben Fountain’s celebrated 2012 novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, about a group of Iraq war vets, including 19-year-old Billy Lynn, who must endure a Thanksgiving Day football game in Texas on their exhaustive “Victory Tour” before they return to the war. TriStar Productions and Film4 announced the news Thursday.

“I am very excited to be going back to work and to be collaborating with my old friend Tom Rothman,” Lee said in a statement. “The most important thing to me is storytelling and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a story that immediately gripped me. I look forward to starting the creative process with this extraordinary team of collaborators.”

Lee collaborated with Tom Rothman during his Fox days to bring the “unfilmableLife of Pi to the big screen. The film went on to win four Oscars and gross over $600 million worldwide.

Rothman, now at TriStar, is credited with orchestrating the deal with Lee. “Ang Lee is constitutionally incapable of repeating himself.  His very DNA requires him to always find new challenges.  ‘More of the same’ may be the film fashion these days, but thankfully not for this exceptional artist,” he said in a statement. “Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn will be a true original, and TriStar is in the business of investing in originality, here combined with innovation. Big movies come from such combinations, as witness Life of Pi.”

Ink Factory’s Stephen Cornwell, Rhodri Thomas and Simon Cornwell, and Film4 (who first optioned the book) will produce the film along with Lee. Simon Beaufoy, who won an Oscar for adapting Slumdog Millionaire, wrote the script and production is planning on a Spring start.