News Column

'A Hijacking' Director Not Scared of Tom Hanks

July 5, 2013

Mark Olsen

It's not that unusual for there to be two movies coming out in a relatively short time frame that deal with similar stories. There's the most recent example of "White House Down" and "Olympus Has Fallen," but then also the strange twins of "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" or "Capote" and "Infamous."

So the Danish film "A Hijacking," currently in theaters, deals with the negotiations over a shipping vessel taken over by Somali pirates. The upcoming "Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks and directed by "United 93" and "Bourne" series director Paul Greengrass, is likely to be both a commercial hit and an awards contender. And it happens to be based on the true story of an American boat captain whose ship was overtaken by Somali pirates.

Speaking during a Q&A following a recent screening of "A Hijacking" as part of the Los Angeles Times Indie Focus Screening Series, writer and director Tobias Lindholm spoke candidly about his awareness of the much-larger-profile film that was looming on the horizon, noting that production of his film was pushed forward a bit to lessen any conflict in audiences' minds.

"We didn't want to be the Danish version of that," Lindholm said. "We knew that it was a totally different story. I knew the story of Captain Phillips, it's been all over the news in Denmark. It's a whole other story, about a hero, and that wasn't our story. So I wasn't afraid of it.

"But of course two films going out with the same themes at the same time, especially in Denmark, wouldn't help us. So we wanted to hurry up. I'm a big fan of Paul Greengrass and watching 'United 93' helped build the structure of this film. That is a brilliant piece of work and the way it is stuctured helped us structure 'A Hijacking.'"

Lindholm's film purposefully leaves out the actual invasion of the boat, focusing instead on the tense negotiations to get it back. The trailer for "Captain Phillips" seems to feature its invasion quite prominently. So perhaps the two films will ultimately peacefully co-exist after all.

"It's a big, big, big brother and us. We're very fine with that," Lindholm said. "It's a great actor, a great director, and I wouldn't see why they wouldn't pull a good thing out of this. And also we are well aware that we are doing something very different.

"So I'm just as a fan, looking forward to seeing that film."

Below are the trailers for both "Captain Phillips" and "A Hijacking."

Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus

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