Assault on Tony's from Leaving Las Vegas writer
Lili Fini Zanuck is set to direct the adaptation of John O'Brien's 1996 novel entitled Assault on Tony's (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com). It tells the story of a group of five people who are caught in a bar for seventeen days during mass race riots outside.
O'Brien previously wrote the superb story for Leaving Las Vegas, and so hopes are high. Except Erik Bergquist, who adapted the novel, has made some huge changes for the film version.
The novel sees the all-white drunks barricade themselves inside the bar while the chaos rages outside, however inside the temperatures begin to rise when the alcohol begins to run out. There are power struggles, rationing, and violence over those seventeen days.
According to The Hollywood Reporter story there are a number of pretty big changes for the film version. Firstly, and I think most importantly, the story is reduced to just three days. That's a time period that doesn't feel long enough for serious issues to develop among the drunks, or for the bar to run out of alcohol.
Another big change is that the five drinkers are now three white men and two black men, and one isn't even a drinker nor has he visited the bar before, perhaps he's someone who has sought shelter during the riots?
They've also expanded the role of the waitress in the story, perhaps to have something much more dramatic.
"Everybody responds differently in a crisis, and these characters were very compelling to me," she said. "It's dark, it's funny. I mean, you've got four drunk guys in a bar. It's basically the human condition -- how people respond in a non-heroic situation."
Sounds like it could be a strong thriller, although I wonder if the changes were necessary, and more to the point if the reduction to a mere three days is really going to make the story work.