John Boyega
John Boyega

Announced earlier this year, Kathryn Bigelow will direct, as well as produce with Mark Boal and Annapurna’s Megan Ellison and Matthew Budman, an untitled true crime drama from an original screenplay by Boal.

Referred to as the “Untitled Detroit Project,” it is being financed by Annapurna Pictures, and was set to begin principal photography this summer.

Specific details about the Detroit project are being kept mostly underwraps for now, other than the press release mention that it will be set against the backdrop of Detroit’s devastating riots that took place over five haunting summer days in 1967. Boal is said to have been researching and working on the project, which explores systemic racism in urban Detroit, for more than a year. Although no studio is yet attached, a release date is being targeted for 2017, the 50th anniversary of the riots.

Announced this afternoon, John Boyega has booked a role in the crime drama, although, as with almost everything else about the project, his involvement isn’t public information yet.

The riots were a series of violent confrontations between residents of predominantly African American neighborhoods of Detroit, and the city’s police department, that began on July 23, 1967, and lasted for five days. The immediate cause of the riot was a police raid at an after-hours club, the site of a welcome-home party for two returning African American Vietnam War veterans.

As a result, 43 people died, including 33 African Americans and 10 whites. Many other people were injured; more than 7,000 people were arrested; and more than 1,000 buildings were burned in the uprising.

Those 5 days of upheaval are considered one of the catalysts for the Black Power movement of the period.

Around the same time, President LBJ appointed a commission to investigate the violent disorders that had erupted in several USA cities, including Detroit. The commission’s 1968 report cited racism, discrimination, and poverty as among the causes of the riots, and famously warned that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.”

Needless to say, the casting of this will continue to be closely watched by us. Notably, through what character’s eyes will the story unfold? Who will its main protagonist(s) be?

This news comes 2 weeks after Boyega was tapped by Legendary Pictures to star in the upcoming sequel to “Pacific Rim,” which Steven S. DeKnight is directing.

Annapurna’s Megan Ellison and Matthew Budman, and Colin Wilson, and Greg Shapiro will executive produce the Bigelow/Boal project.

Boal and Bigelow previously collaborated on “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”