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Star Wars Producer Gary Kurtz Taking on Panzer 88

The L.A. Times Blog is reporting that Gary Kurtz (producer of the Star Wars entries A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back) is preparing a new sci-fi film called Panzer 88.
Says Kurtz of the $20 million independent project, "It's a good, good project, you haven't seen anything like it for a while. It's a visceral, reality-based story with horror overtones, and the idea is to have be like the best of the graphic novels these days."

Notes the blog, "The plot follows the five-man German crew of the Ilsa -- a King Tiger, the biggest tank of its day -- on a mission to the frigid and fearsome Russian border, where they tread into an ancient mystery by stirring a powerful entity. The original screenplay was written by Aaron Mason and James Cowan; they share the writing credit with Peter Briggs, who will direct. Briggs, who co-wrote the screenplay for Hellboy, finds himself back in the paranormal territories of the Third Reich, but he said this film hopes for a different caliber of character emotion and a 'Band of Brothers' sort of ensemble. 'I'd already written a paranormal World War II sequence in the opening of Hellboy, the British filmmaker said. 'Tonally, Panzer 88 is a tad different from that. Our military aspects are more realistic, and mostly akin to the claustrophobic action and tension of Das Boot. We're aiming to do for the tank genre what Hunt For Red October and Crimson Tide did for submarine flicks. Only, with a supernatural twist. We're upping the ante with visuals, equipment, and scenes that have never been seen in a World War II milieu. In retrospect, it's strange nobody's thought to do this in quite this way before...'"

Offering his views on producing the film, Kurtz explains, "I'm not interested in tentpole pictures; I think smaller films work better for the filmmaker and for the audience. For me, producing American Graffiti was a more pleasurable experience than producing Star Wars in a lot of ways.... I think all of the better films I've seen recently were more modest in concept and execution. The Europeans have known this for a long time. Right now, a movie like Panzer is what I want to see ... and what I want to make."
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L.A. Times

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