EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has set Norwegian helmer Morten Tyldum to direct Ghostman, an adaptation of the bestselling Roger Hobbs novel. Tyldum is best known for directing an adaptation of the Jo Nesbo novel Headhunters, which led him to be hired to helm The Imitation Game, which Graham Moore wrote for Benedict Cumberbatch to star as Alan Turing. Peter Craig adapted Ghostman, a phrase that refers to a professional who cleans up messes and helps fugitives disappear. He is careful but gets sucked into a casino heist gone terribly wrong. His former mentor bankrolled the casino heist, which left several dead, and a crack addict in the wind with $1 million in cash that was supposed to pay off a drug debt. The Ghostman finds himself in a race over 48 hours to clean up the mess or his mentor will be in the cross hairs of a ruthless drug kingpin called The Wolf, and there is an attractive CIA agent in the center of things. The film’s being produced by Kevin McCormick’s Langley Park. Warner Bros bought the novel for McCormick last year.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired Boston Strangler, a thriller pitch about the desperate search for the murderer who terrorized the Boston area during the early 1960s. Kevin McCormick‘s Warner-based Langley Park shingle will produce, and the pitch was bought from Casey Affleck and fellow Boston native screenwriter Chuck Maclean. Affleck hopes to star as one of the detectives who were part of the Strangler Squad responsible for solving the crime, and he will be exec producer.
The script will be written by Maclean, whose script Bridges On The Fort Point Channel made the 2011 Black List and who is writing Storming Las Vegas for Summit. With a tone similar to Se7en and Zodiac, they will cover the most haunting unsolved serial murder story in U.S. history. While Albert DeSalvo was convicted of crimes unrelated to the Boston Strangler case, the public was spun to believe he was the man behind the 13 gruesome murders of women in Boston for over a year and a half. There is still belief that more than one killer was involved, and that DeSalvo was a pawn in a bigger conspiracy.
EXCLUSIVE: Stephen Gaghan has set up his next two directing projects, one covering the smuggling of cocaine from Mexico, the other human cargo from China. Gaghan, who last directed Syriana, has made a deal with Warner Bros for an untitled Cartel Project; and he has made a deal with Flashlight Pictures to direct an independent drama based on the book The Snakehead: An Epic Tale Of The Chinatown Underworld And The American Dream.
The latter is the title of a book by New Yorker writer Patrick Keefe; it will be Keefe who writes the script for the Cartel project at Warner Bros. Gaghan’s Unsupervised Shingle is producing the Cartel project along with Kevin McCormick’s Langley Park. The Warner Bros film will be partly based on Richard Marosi’s four-part series published in the Los Angeles Times this summer, about how an extensive DEA wiretap operation cracked a variety of smuggling rings transporting tons of cocaine from Sinaloa, Mexico, into Los Angeles and then across the country. Those methods included loading cocaine into everything from cars with elaborate hidden compartments to small airplanes and tractor trailers covered by pallets of frozen chicken. The wiretaps elicited highly personal information on smugglers, including one who would not make a move without the advice of a psychic. It’s the second project McCormick has set up from journalistic sources; Warner Bros is in production with the Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin …
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired rights to the supernatural British comedy show Rentaghost, and has re-teamed Ben Stiller with his Night At The Museum writers Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. The film will be produced by Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun through BermanBraun and Kevin McCormick through Langley Park. Patrick Pidgeon is producer and Andrew Mittman is co-producer. The comedy will be based on the British TV kid series that ran on BBC1 from 1976-84. The project was once in negotiations to land at Warner Bros with Berman and McCormick as a vehicle for Russell Brand, but he withdrew after Arthur didn’t open strongly, and the studio never closed the deal. If Stiller, Lennon and Garant can replicate anything close to Night at the Museum, this could be another strong family franchise for Fox, where Stiller’s Red Hour is based.
The original show involved a supernatural firm called Rentaghost, which rented out spirits for a variety of tasks. In the take that Lennon and Garant will write, the idea is for Stiller to play an American turnaround consultant who is sent to the UK to reinvigorate a failing company. Stiller’s got a lot going on. The Brett Ratner-directed Tower Heist will be released next month, he’s shooting the Akiva Schaffer-directed Fox comedy Neighborhood Watch with Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, and continues to work with Fox on The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, which he hopes to direct …
EXCLUSIVE: While Johnny Depp waits to see if director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer can figure out a way to salvage The Lone Ranger after Disney halted the film because of a huge budget, Depp is making forward progress on dusting off another period property. David Koepp has been set to write the script for the remake of the 76-year-old film The Thin Man, the remake that Depp set up last year at Warner Bros as a vehicle to re-team with his Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall. Depp will produce with his Infinitum Nihil partner Christi Dembrowski, Langley Park’s Kevin McCormick, Marshall and John DeLuca. There was talk that Jerry Stahl was going to write, but apparently nothing was written and Koepp is going to start from scratch. Which means he’ll go back to the Dashiell Hammett novel that spawned the series of six MGM films that starred William Powell and Myrna Loy.
Depp will play Nick, the former detective who marries an adorable young socialite, drinks a lot and occasionally solves a case. There is no word yet on who’ll join Depp and play Nora. The original intention is to take elements of the first two films and work them into one film, putting it into a period setting and giving it a Sherlock Holmes-like stylized treatment. Marshall also intends to use his talent as a choreographer (remember he did Chicago) and work in a musical number or two.
EXCLUSIVE: Producers Paula Mazur, Mitchell Kaplan and Kevin McCormick have acquired screen rights to the Helen Simonson novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Jack Thorne has been hired to write the script for a film that will be a co-production between the Mazur Kaplan Company and McCormick’s Warner Bros-based Langley Park Pictures. Published in 2010 by Random House, the book focuses on a retired and widowed British army major who falls in love with the Pakistani woman who runs their countryside village’s local convenience store. The novel his the bestseller list when it was published. Mazur Kaplan is funding development. Thorne is a British playwright whose first film was The Scouting Book for Boys. He just adapted the Nick Hornby novel A Long Way Down and has also written for the UK series Skins. UTA made the book deal for Barer Literary and Thorne’s repped by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has begun negotiating with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin to star in Gangster Squad, the Will Beall-scripted crime drama that will be directed by Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer. Production will begin in the fall. Deadline told you last month that the studio had offered two of the main roles to Penn and Gosling. The linchpin of the film is Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen, which is the role that Penn is in talks to play. Gosling and Brolin are in talks to play two cops assigned to bring him down when the gangster’s penchant for violence leaves the blood of innocents on the street. Dan Lin and Kevin McCormick are producing.
Penn had become shaky on the role for a bit — he’s also in talks to star with Christian Bale in the Kurt Johnstad-scripted drama The Last Photograph, which will be directed by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo helmer Niels Arden Oplev for Dark Castle, but that pic doesn’t start production till next spring — but things have worked out after all. For Penn, this could well be as memorable a gangster turn as when Robert De Niro played Al Capone in The Untouchables. Cohen, a former boxer who became an associate of Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, was a charismatic figure …