Fox and Amblin have changed the title of their Watergate-era drama “The Papers” to “The Post,” according to Variety. The film, based on the Washington Post’s release of the classified Pentagon Papers in 1971, is helmed by director Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”), with Tom Hanks (“Sully”) and Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) starring. Hanks will portray Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, and Streep will play publisher Katherine Graham.
The Pentagon Papers were an alarming historical accounting of the US’s political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945-1967, and described in detail how the Johnson administration repeatedly lied to the public and Congress about US involvement in the Vietnam War. The 47 volume study that was banned from release via a federal court injunction, brought by then-president Richard Nixon and Attorney General John Mitchell. The New York Times and the Washington Post took them to court, with the case eventually landing at the Supreme Court. They handed down a landmark ruling, noting that the US government failed to prove a harm to national security existed in the Pentagon Papers. In addition, publication of the papers was protected by the First Amendment. Both newspapers were then allowed the publish startling revelations from the Pentagon Papers.
“The Post” will also star Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story”), Bob Odernkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), Bradley Whitford (“Get Out”), Carrie Coon (“Fargo”), Jesse Plemons (“Fargo”), David Cross (“Arrested Development”), Alison Brie (“GLOW”), Bruce Greenwood (“Star Trek”), Tracy Letts (“August: Osage County”) and Michael Stuhlbarg (“Boardwalk Empire”). The film is expected to contend during the upcoming awards season, and is slipping under just under the deadline for award consideration with a soft release in late December.
Now for pure speculation about the name change. The film’s subject matter, Watergate, is becoming eerily similar to current US politics; perhaps higher-ups felt “The Papers” title might hit too close to home. With Congress and the White House continuously in upheaval, a stickier situation may arise by the time of the film’s release, which could tamper with its Oscar hopes. The name change could also be a nod to a similarly-geared drama, “Spotlight,” which was also named for its investigative reporting team rather than its plot. “Spotlight” won two Oscars, so drawing a more obvious connection between both films would make sense if “The Post” is planning an awards campaign. In either case, a name change makes sense.
“The Post” is slated for a limited release on Dec. 22, with a wider release on Jan. 12, 2018.