David Ayer to Direct WWII Tank Drama El-Alamein

Suicide Squad director David Ayer is in talks to direct WWII thriller El-Alamein, named after the crucial battle in Egypt.

David Ayer on the set of Fury; Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

David Ayer, perhaps best known as the director of 2016 DC movie Suicide Squad, is returning to the genre of World War II tank battle epics, which he famously fielded as writer/director of the 2014 Brad Pitt-headlined Fury. With that WWII tank movie covering the War’s European Theater, he’s now eyeing an adaptation of a key skirmish in the Mediterranean, African and Middle East Theater, with a film titled El-Alamein.

Lionsgate is in talks with Ayer to direct El-Alamein, reports Deadline. The war drama will center on the 1942 WWII tanks-teeming battle in the Egyptian coastal town, just 150 miles west of Cairo. The script has already undergone rewrites, with the first draft, by David Self, recently getting turned over to James Coyne. With Ayer’s tendency to write the scripts for his directorial projects, there is a possibility that he could re-draft the script.

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The Battle of El-Alamein – first held on July 1-27, 1942, secondly in October 23 to November 11, 1942 – was fought between Britain’s Eighth Army, led by Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, and the German/Axis forces, led by the famous German General Field Marshal, Erwin Rommel. The battle occurred after Germany sent Rommel’s Panzer Army to gain control of the Suez Canal and reinforce the region after the British defeated the Axis’s Italian forces in North Africa. The move led to a series of standoffs in which the British, with support from Australian and New Zealand forces and U.S. air support, eventuall repelled Rommel’s forces, leaving devastating, and casualties for both sides numbering in the tens of thousands. It was also historically notable for Rommel’s defiance of Hitler, since he withdrew the German troops without permission, leaving helpless the Italian forces they’d initially come to support.

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Ayer’s most recent written/directorial release was the 2017 Netflix fantasy hybrid actioner, Bright, which quickly reunited him with Suicide Squad star Will Smith. Besides the aforementioned Fury, he’s fielded films such as Sabotage, End of Watch, Street Kings and debuted with the 2005 Christian Bale vehicle, Harsh Times. He also wrote for CBS’s short-lived 2017 Training Day TV series. Amongst Ayer’s future projects will be a Fury reunion with star Shia LaBeouf in the upcoming thriller, The Tax Collector, and a sequel to Bright.

Joining Ayer on Lionsgate’s El-Alamein are producers Di Bonaventura Pictures’ Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian, along with Thomas Augsberger.

El-Alamein doesn’t have a release date yet, but it is reportedly scheduled to commence production in early 2020.

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Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.