May 28, 2009 / 10:55 PM / 10 years ago

Captain and Somali pirates set to go Hollywood

Richard Phillips, Captain of the U.S. cargo ship Maersk Alabama, testifies about his capture by Somali pirates last month before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 30, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The harrowing experience of the American ship captain who was captured last month by Somali pirates is set to be turned into a Hollywood movie, Columbia Pictures said on Thursday.

The studio said it had acquired the life story rights of Richard Phillips, 53, captain of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, who surrendered himself to pirates in exchange for the lives of his crew off the coast of Somalia.

Phillips was held for five days in a lifeboat on the Indian Ocean, and was rescued when U.S. Navy snipers shot dead three of the pirates.

Columbia Pictures said the feature film would be co-produced by actor Kevin Spacey and others including Scott Rudin of Oscar-winning “No Country for Old Men.”

Casting has not been announced, but producers will be looking for actors to play not only Phillips but possibly U.S. President Barack Obama, who authorized the killing of the pirates if the captain’s life was in danger.

“We were drawn to this remarkable story of heroism and courage as events were unfolding off the coast of Africa,” Doug Belgard, co-president of Columbia Pictures, said in a statement.

The studio said it has also optioned the film rights to Phillips’ forthcoming memoirs.

The studio, which is a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said it was too early to forecast a possible release date for the movie.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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