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Steven Spielberg planned a different focus for his take on American Sniper

01.21.2015

AMERICAN SNIPER is a very good movie. Is it Best Picture of the Year? I may not be willing to go quite that far, but it is a damn good flick and one of the better productions Clint Eastwood has directed in several years. But, it could have been a very different movie if Steven Spielberg had not dropped out back in 2013.

Spielberg and Eastwood have very different directing styles but it would have been more than visual differences if filmmakers had not changed behind the scenes. Screenwriter Jason Hall explained to The Hollywood Reporter just what the Oscar-winning director had in mind.

Spielberg had read Kyle’s book and [Jason] Hall’s screenplay and was willing to commit to it as his next movie, with DreamWorks co-producing. But he had some ideas of his own. For one thing, he wanted to focus more on the “enemy sniper” in the script — the insurgent sharpshooter who was trying to track down and kill Kyle. “He was a mirror of Chris on the other side,” Hall explains of Spielberg’s vision. “It was a psychological duel as much as a physical duel. It was buried in my script, but Steven helped bring it out.”

As Spielberg added more and more ideas to the story, the page count continued to grow, bloating to 160. Warner Bros.’ budget for the film, though, remained a slender $60 million. Ultimately, Spielberg felt he couldn’t bring his vision of the story to the screen for that amount of money and dropped out of the project. Within a week, Warner Bros. president Greg Silverman, one of the three executives who run the studio, asked domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman to call Clint Eastwood.

It is always interesting to ponder how a movie could have ended up if someone else's vision were realized on screen and this is a perfect example. With Eastwood's AMERICAN SNIPER grossing over $100 million in just four days of wide release, audiences are clearly not disappointed with the finished product. But, I know I will always wonder what could have been.

AMERICAN SNIPER is now playing.

Extra Tidbit: Was anyone else distracted by the fake baby during some very dramatic scenes?

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