EXCLUSIVE: When I was covering Toronto, the big talk was all about deals for completed films. But the one script buyers were talking up was The Imitation Game, Graham Moore’s heralded screenplay about Alan Turing, the English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who single-handedly helped crack the German “Enigma Code” during World War II that helped the Allies stave off defeat. In a competitive situation, Teddy Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures has come aboard to finance production of the film, with Schwarzman producing with Ampersand Pictures’ Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky, with Moore exec producing.
Turing’s story, which topped the 2011 Black List, is hardly a happy hero tale. Not long after Turing made his contribution to toppling the Nazis in WWII, Britain criminally prosecuted him in the early 1950s for being homosexual. He chose chemical castration over prison and was so demoralized that he eventually committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple (legend has it that Turing’s advancements for what became the computer so inspired Steve Jobs that he named the company Apple).
The script originally sold in a seven-figure spec deal to Warner Bros, when it appeared that Leonardo DiCaprio was interested in starring. The studio put J Blakeson on the project, but the deal had a quick trigger and the rights reverted back to the screenwriter, who then got the job of adapting The Devil In The White City for Warner Bros. That’s being crafted for DiCaprio to play serial killer Dr. HH Holmes, with DiCaprio and Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran and Double Feature partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher.