Darkest Hour’s Joe Wright to Direct World War II Movie In the Garden of Beasts

Joe Wright’s next movie will return him to World War II, this time from an American’s perspective, with In the Garden of Beasts.

Joe Wright and Gary Oldman on the set of Darkest Hour

Director Joe Wright appears to be on the verge of returning to the historical backdrop of World War II, which, of course, recently yielded a bevy of BAFTA and Oscar-winning success in 2018 for his Winston Churchill biopic, Darkest Hour, this time eyeing the big chair for non-fiction book adaptation In the Garden of Beasts.

StudioCanal and Playtone Productions are finalizing negotiations with Wright to direct the historical thriller, according to Variety. The film will adapt Erik Larson’s 2011 New York Times bestselling book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, which was quickly optioned for adaptation in its release year by Tom Hanks through his Playtone shingle. Flashing forward to now, the project appears to be finally getting off the ground, with Hanks and Gary Goetzman producing through Playtone.

Should Wright close the deal to direct In the Garden of Beasts, then his directorial return to the World War II era will center on William E. Dodd, America’s first diplomat to Nazi Germany, set in 1933, a time when the world still looked at Hitler’s post-War-to-End-All-Wars reconstruction with awe and praise. However, for Dodd – formerly a mild-mannered Chicago professor – the regime’s veneer of dogged determination starts to erode as he witnesses escalating atrocities against Jews; incidents which his overseers at the State Department seem to dismiss. Moreover, the dilemma literally starts to hit home, since his impressionable and extroverted daughter, Martha, becomes immersed in the social scene of the Reich’s elite, leading to romances with members of the Gestapo.

Tom Hanks is reportedly penciled in to star in the film as Dodd. He would certainly fit the bill age-wise and would bring some star power to the film. However, that idea remains up in the air, and it’s possible that he’ll only be onboard in the capacity of a producer.

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For now, Joe Wright’s next directorial offering will be a crime drama called The Woman in the Window, which will reunite him with his Oscar-winning Darkest Hour Winston Churchill, Gary Oldman, along with Amy Adams, Anthony Mackie and Julianne Moore. The London-born director, Wright, also brings experience from film efforts like Pan, Anna Karenina, Hanna, Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, along with TV work on Black Mirror, The Last King, Bob & Rose and Nature Boy.

There’s no word yet on the release of In the Garden of Beasts, but Wright’s The Woman in the Window is scheduled to hit theaters on October 4.

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