This is a genuinely fascinating account of how two "maritime" movies will get made:
The best choice seemed to be Battleship, which Berg had been attached to since 2008, but on which little progress had been made. The film may not have had a plot yet, let alone a script, but it had the summer-tentpole potential for explosions and great special effects, and Berg was a military history buff and beloved at NBC/Universal. That was good enough. While it may seem odd that the execs were more worried about paying a $5 million penalty than committing to a $200 million blockbuster with just a title, they were driven by both the desperate need for a big movie and the looming Comcast deal that would decide all of their future employment. They had to have something hugely promising on the books; at the least, Battleship was certainly huge.
At the time, Berg was also being wooed to direct Paramount’s Dune remake and DreamWorks’ robot battle movie Real Steel. But Universal was able to lock him down by promising him that after Battleship, he could make his passion project, Lone Survivor, based on the nonfiction account of the life and death of Lieutenant Michael Murphy, the U.S. Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor in Afghanistan. Berg’s Survivor was a gritty, intensely realistic, and graphic war movie, everything that Battleship couldn’t be: Universal’s deal specified that no Hasbro movie could be rated ‘R’. There were toys to be sold!
The story is interesting on its own merits, but I suspect that there's almost much grist for thinking about contracts, desperation, and the chronic bureaucratic need to deliver something by an artificial deadline.