Buoyed by the DVD success of The Hornet’s Nest, the team behind the war-zone documentary is launching Strong Eagle Media, a production and digital media company that will focus on military-themed films.
Industry veterans Bert Bedrosian, Christian Tureaud and David Salzberg, who previously collaborated on the baseball drama The Perfect Game, are putting together their debut slate, which includes two documentaries — Citizen Soldier and Danger Close — that are fully financed and will be released in 2016.
Sources say the trio has lured high-ranking Obama administration alum Wendy Anderson to join Strong Eagle Media. Anderson served in the Obama administration from 2010 to 2015 in the Departments of Defense and Commerce. (She was deputy chief of staff to Chuck Hagel, chief of staff to deputy secretary of defense Ash Carter—a vocal supporter of Hornet’s Nest—and chief of staff to secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker.) Anderson has already begun working on Citizen Soldier and Danger Close, both set in Afghanistan.
Though Hornet’s Nest didn’t make a big dent at the box office when it was distributed theatrically by Freestyle Releasing ($313,000), it became a critical hit and one of the top-selling documentary DVDs of 2014. Hornet’s Nest sold more than 200,000 units in its first six months on the market, comparable to such Oscar-nominated docs as Virunga and Last Days in Vietnam. It also is the only film ever to be enshrined into the National Infantry Museum at Fort Banning.
Citizen Soldier tells the story of Sgt. Eran Harrill, an African-American soldier who led his Army National Guard platoon on some of the most dangerous and heroic missions while deployed in Afghanistan. Using helmet cameras, the film captures the reality of combat and daily life. The film is being eyed for release during Black History Month.
Danger Close tells the story of Alex Quade, a gutsy female war reporter who embedded with the U.S. Special Operations A-Teams on the front lines of fighting. Danger Close will be released Memorial Day Weekend 2016. Using real footage, Danger Close will take audiences inside clandestine operations and harrowing combat never seen by the public before while offering an intimate and moving perspective to the War on Terror.
Salzberg and Tureaud, who directed Hornet’s Nest, will direct Citizen Soldier and Danger Close.
Given the success of American Sniper, military-themed films have become a hot commodity in Hollywood. TriStar Pictures recently won a bidding war for Shoot Like a Girl: How One Woman’s War Against the Taliban Led to Her Victory Over the Department of Defense. Fox 2000 and Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea‘s Pacific Standard is moving forward on an adaptation of Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield. And Warner Bros. is developing It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, with Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lawrence attached to direct and star, respectively.