Hollywood to shoot thriller on 9/11 trragedy

Universal Pictures unveiled plans on Tuesday for a big-screen thriller about the September 11 attacks on America, becoming the third major studio to set its sights on a subject Hollywood initially bent over backward to avoid.

As America nears the fourth anniversary of the bloodiest attacks on its soil, filmmakers and TV producers are clamoring to dramatize events surrounding the suicide hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people and ignited the U.S. war on terrorism.

In addition to films in the works at Universal and two rival studios, several new made-for-TV projects are expected to focus on what happened when Islamic militants crashed two jetliners into New York's World Trade Center, a third plane into the Pentagon and a fourth in Pennsylvania.

While Hollywood's embrace of the 9/11 story may seem exploitative to some, Paul Levinson, a media scholar at Fordham University in New York, called it a "healthy" sign that the popular culture is coming to terms with the calamity.

"Since this is one of the transcending, defining events of our age, inevitably Hollywood ... has to deal with it," he told Reuters. "It's part of the process by which we come to understand our own feelings about this," reports Reuters.

According to trade paper Variety, the new film about Flight 93 has a relatively modest budget of $15m (Ј8.9m) and will be shot with hand-held cameras.

A cast and release date for the film has yet to be determined, although Variety has suggested that it could feature at next year's Cannes Film Festival.

Another big-screen version of the events of 11 September is being made by film director Oliver Stone. The film, starring Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage, will tell the story of two police officers trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York and is expected to be released next year.

Stone called it "an exploration of heroism in our country".

Paramount Pictures said in February that it had gained the rights to 102 Minutes, a book by US reporters about the interval between the impact of the first airliner and the collapse of the first tower, informs BBC News.

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