EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has set up a movie built around Rin Tin Tin, the venerable German Shepherd that once was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy in the 1920s, and appeared as the hero in 27 films. Hired to write is Matt Lieberman, who most recently scripted another dog tale for Warner Bros in the upcoming animated film Scoob, and who scripted the just released MGM animated film The Addams Family and Playing With Fire, and he is working on the animated Jetsons. He has upcoming the Shawn Levy-directed Ryan Reynolds-starrer Free Guy that Fox/Disney will be released next July.
Andrew Lazar’s Mad Chance (American Sniper and Cats & Dogs) will produce with the rights holders Sasha Jenson and Jeff Miller. The idea of a hero hound has gained credibility in the revelation that the dog Conan took part in the raid which resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 27. The dog chased al-Baghdadi down into a tunnel before al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest. The dog was hailed a hero by President Donald Trump, who awarded the dog a bronze paw print medal, the equivalent of a canine Medal of Honor for a dog that was injured in the mission.
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The plan here is to reinvent Rin Tin Tin as a modern action star, the John Wick of dogs. Here, the hero is an elite military dog on a covert mission to prevent a large scale attack. The film will be live action.
The original Rin Tin Tin has a hero story all his own. Lee Duncan, an American soldier fighting in WWI, came upon a litter of German Shepherd puppies left to die on a bombed out field in France. Bred to serve the German Imperial Army, the pups were liberated by the soldier, who found homes for them and kept two for himself. One was Rin Tin Tin, which won dog shows and soon became a matinee idol. Warner Bros was just starting and the films became hugely popular in the silent era. Legend has it that the first Oscars eyed the pooch as first Best Actor winner before it was decided that wasn’t good luck for the inaugural awarding of the Academy Awards. The Rin Tin Tin films were reliable hits, and saved Warner Bros from bankruptcy more than once, during the silent film era. He was a casualty of the talkies, though, when performances were suddenly embellished by voice, and well, Rin Tin Tin couldn’t talk. The original dog died in 1932.
Lieberman is repped by Adam Kolbrenner’s Lit Entertainment Group and attorney Melissa Rogal.