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Jon Movie Update

From today's (January 20, 1999) Variety:
Transcribed by

U's 'U-571' getting sea legs in Italy

By DAVID ROONEY, January 20, 1999

ROME — Capping off a year in which U.S. productions have made a sweeping return to Italian lensing, Universal’s big-ticket “U-571” will start shooting Monday at Cinecitta in Rome, with Dino and Martha De Laurentiis producing.

“My last encounter with the press in this studio was for ‘War and Peace’ in 1954,” said Dino De Laurentiis at a news conference Tuesday to launch production of the World War II suspense thriller. “I have to say I’m pleased to be still standing here in the breach with a film as complex and complicated as ‘U-571.’ ”

Directed by Jonathan Mostow (“Breakdown” and HBO’s miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon”), the film was scripted by Mostow, Sam Montgomery and former U.S. Navy sonarman David Ayer. The cast is headed by Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, Jake Weber and David Keith.

Targeted for release either in December or early 2000, the pic will shoot for eight weeks in the Rome studios and a further eight weeks in open-sea locations off the island of Malta. The $90 million feature is the biggest production to take up residence on the Cinecitta backlot since U’s “Daylight” in 1995, which was exec produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis.

Touching on incidents that occurred during WWII, “U-571” concerns an attempt by American soldiers to board a German U-Boat and take possession of an Enigma coding device.

“My ambition is simply to create a story that can appeal to modern audiences and give them a taste really of what World War II submarining was like, as well as some appreciation of the strategic issues that dominated the Battle of the Atlantic, all in the context of a big, entertaining Hollywood movie,” said Mostow.

The production estimates an investment in Cinecitta of around $3.5 million, excluding crew costs. Construction has been completed on the backlot’s largest soundstage, Studio 5 — the favored stomping ground of Federico Fellini throughout his career — of a 210-foot German U-Boat replica replete with engine rooms, sleeping quarters, working machinery and Nazi paraphernalia.

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