The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is an upcoming American legal drama film written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. The film features an ensemble cast, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Frank Langella, William Hurt, and Michael Keaton, and follows the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy in 1968.
Sorkin originally wrote the screenplay in 2007, with the intent of Steven Spielberg directing the film with mostly unknown actors. After the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike and budget concerns forced Spielberg to drop out, Sorkin was announced as director in October 2018, and much of the cast joined that same month. Filming took place in the fall of 2019 in Chicago and around New Jersey.
Originally to be released by Paramount Pictures with a planned theatrical release, the rights to the film were sold to Netflix due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Netflix will release it digitally on October 16, 2020.


Based on the story of the Chicago Seven, a group of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to anti-Vietnam War and countercultural protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois, on the occasion of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.



In 2007, writer Aaron Sorkin wrote a script entitled The Trial of the Chicago 7, based on the conspiracy trial of the so-called Chicago 7. Producers Steven Spielberg, Walter F. Parkes, and Laurie MacDonald collaborated on the development of Sorkin's script, with Spielberg intending to direct the film. Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as Abbie Hoffman, while Spielberg approached Will Smith for the role of Bobby Seale, and planned to meet with Heath Ledger about playing Tom Hayden. The Writers Guild of America strike, which started in November 2007 and lasted 100 days, delayed filming and the project was suspended. Sorkin was later to continue to rewrite the script for Spielberg, and the director intended to mostly cast unknowns to keep the budget down. Paul Greengrass and Ben Stiller were rumored as replacement directors, but the project did not move forward.
In October 2018, Sorkin was announced as director. In December 2018, the film was put on hold due to budgetary concerns, until it was revived and ready for distribution offers. Paramount Pictures ended up picking up distribution rights.


In October 2018, Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne joined the cast. In November 2018, Jonathan Majors joined the cast. In February 2019, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Alex Sharp joined the cast. Michael Keaton was also being considered for a role. In August, Frank Langella and Mark Rylance were added to the cast. In September, Jeremy Strong was cast, replacing Rogen. In October, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II joined the cast to replace Majors, with Kelvin Harrison Jr., Keaton, William Hurt, J. C. MacKenzie, Thomas Middleditch, Max Adler and Ben Shenkman joining the cast.


Principal production was set to begin in September 2019, but began the next month in October between Chicago and New Jersey. Filming in Morris County, New Jersey took place in Hennessy Hall, affectionately known as "The Mansion," on Fairleigh Dickinson University's Florham Campus and Hyland Hall, Grant Park in Chicago, and at Santa Maria at College of Saint Elizabeth.


The film was originally scheduled by Paramount Pictures to begin a limited theatrical release on September 25, 2020, before going wide on October 16, 2020. On June 20, 2020, due to the movie theater closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, it was reported Netflix was in negotiations to acquire rights to the film. On July 1, 2020, they officially closed a $56 million deal to distribute the film, with intentions to release it prior to Election Day in November. It is scheduled to be released on October 16, 2020.