Relativity has optioned the Ron Chernow book Titan: The Life Of John D. Rockefeller and will develop a feature on America’s first billionaire for Lasse Hallstrom to direct. Script will be written by Craig Borten, who is Oscar-nominated for Dallas Buyers Club.
The patriarch of one of the country’s richest families, Rockefeller was ruthless in building Standard Oil, and spent 30 years dodging investigations into his business tactics until Teddy Roosevelt took him on. Rockefeller also turned into a philanthropist who gave away most of his fortune. Hallstrom sparked to telling the story of “the first Rockefeller, John D., and his rise to fame and fortune.”
It is a sprawling undertaking, but Borten is used to that. He said he met Dallas Buyers Club protagonist Ron Woodruff in 1992 and had his first script draft done two years later, and it took nearly two decades for the film to get made. On the surface, the two subjects seem entirely different but Borten sees similarities. “Each saw capitalism as a way to divide and conquer and accumulate but ultimately became most memorable for giving back,” he told me. “Lasse’s early films like My Life As A Dog and Gilbert Grape changed my view of storytelling with his humanistic approach to characters. That was a major reason for me doing this.”
The film will be produced by Matt Alvarez and Robert Kravis, and Relativity president Tucker Tooley and production president Robbie Brenner are overseeing. Hallstrom and Borten are repped by UTA.