If you’ve got to replace Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood seems like a pretty good option. Apparently that’s what Warner Bros. was thinking, as they’re reportedly in early talks to bring Eastwood on to direct American Sniper, a job made available when Spielberg left the project just two weeks ago. Eastwood is about to begin production on his next directorial project, a big screen adaptation of Jersey Boys, but this should still leave him just enough time to step into an American Sniper production that’s being planned for the first part of next year.
Surely key in Eastwood’s discussions with Warners will be the question of the budget, as Spielberg supposedly left the project because the studio wasn’t willing to pony up the cash to make the film the way Spielberg was envisioning. While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, the past work of the two men suggests that Eastwood might be able to deliver on a slightly lower budget; Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan was made for a reported $70 million in 1998, while Eastwood spent roughly the same total making both Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima eight years later.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is Bradley Cooper’s attachment to both produce and star in the film. Warner Bros. is trying to keep to the schedule it had begun planning with Spielberg because Cooper’s other commitments make shifting production difficult. Whether it is indeed Eastwood or another director coming on board, expect Warners to move quickly. Otherwise we may see the project may be rolled back into development for another year or more.