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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America, the 2003 non-fiction book by Erik Larson. The studio has set Graham Moore to script the story of Dr. HH Holmes, one of the most notorioius serial killers in Chicago history. Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to play Holmes. Moore created a stir with his spec script The Imitation Game, which was acquired by Warner Bros in a 7-figure spec deal before it was judged to be the top script on The Black List that was released earlier this week.
Warner Bros acquired the project from Appian Way partners DiCaprio and Jennifer Killoran and Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. They will produce, and they acquired the book late last year with DiCaprio attached to play Holmes, the 19th Century equivalent of Hannibal Lecter. A cunning charmer, Holmes preyed on anywhere from 27 to 200 people at a time when the city of Chicago was enthralled with hosting the World’s Fair of 1893. Holmes constructed The World’s Fair Hotel, an inn more lethal than the Bates Motel, especially for young single women. The sociopath used charm and guile to lure guests into what became known as a “murder castle,” a haunt that had a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table where Holmes … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: To anyone with an interest in those Enigma codebreakers who helped win WWII and the math geniuses whose work led to the creation of the earliest computers, then the name Alan Turing holds quite a lot of fascination. This British historical figure most prominent from 1940 through 1955 is also the subject of a big spec script sale today. First-time screenwriter Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game was snapped up by Warner Bros in a 7-figure deal. I’ve learned that the studio outbid half a dozen indie companies because Leonardo DiCaprio ”has the inside track” to play the lead and was chasing the project. But so far no talent is attached. I hear Ron Howard is interested in directing.
First-time producers Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky owned the rights to Andrew Hodges’ definitive biography Alan Turing: The Enigma and worked with Moore for more than a year to get the script just right. Moore is also a first-time novelist and his crime fiction debut The Sherlockian, filled with Conan Doyle lore, received a rave review in The New York Times by Janet Maslin. People I trust tell me The Imitation Game is the best script they’ve read in years — and they read a lot of scripts. The life story of this English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, computer scientist, criminally prosecuted homosexual, and tortured soul who committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple has it all. (Reportedly, Steve Jobs named his company “Apple” as a … Read More »