Hartnett will play a star player at a West Texas College who becomes
increasingly obsessed with the threat of nuclear war.
The film is adapted from the novel of the same name by Don DeLillo. Ratliff and David Gilbert (who also scripted Joshua) have written the screenplay.
End Zone is being produced through ATO Pictures.
DeLillo, one of the most revered contemporary US novelists, has now given the project his blessing. 'I had to nag him for two years even to be given a chance to write a draft on spec,' Ratliff said. 'But he liked what we are doing with the adaptation. He has been nothing but gracious.'
Ratliff is billing the film as 'Dr Strangelove meets Friday Night Lights.' He describes DeLillo's novel as a 'big football satire' which looks at America's 'bellicose attitude toward life.'
The aim is to shoot in January 2008.
Joshua is currently on release in the US.