EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures has closed a deal with Sean O’Keefe to adapt The Esperanza Fire, based on the John Maclean book about a wildland fire started by an arsonist that killed a tightly knit forest service engine crew that bravely battled the blaze. Maclean, the son of A River Runs Through It author Norman Maclean, was an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune who has written several books around wildfire disasters. This one described the equivalent of ‘The Perfect Storm’ of wildland blazes. The firefighters who perished were pillars of their community, which was devastated by their deaths. An “area ignition” that took the lives of the men resulted in the first conviction of a wildland arsonist for first-degree murder and the death penalty.
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox had acquired Riders On The Storm, a pitch for an action film that will be written by Sean O’Keefe. The story follows a sophisticated heist crew that pulls off high-end robberies during severe weather events. The deal was worth mid-six figures. Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox are producing with Richard Leibowitz of Union Entertainment. The project originated as a video game concept hatched by Richard Wickliffe.
Union Entertainment was going to turn it into a vidgame, but instead it morphed into the feature pitch that had several studios interested when ICM pitched it. O’Keefe split up with writing partner Will Staples, but they are working together on a rewrite of the Lorenzo Carcaterra novel Apaches for Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. They also wrote World’s Most Wanted for Neal Moritz and Universal and an Alaskan adventure movie for Walden Media and producer Mark Johnson. O’Keefe is managed by Brian Lutz.
EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Renner, who received an Oscar nomination for the Ben Affleck-directed heist film The Town, is back in bank robbery mode. Renner is attached to star in King of Heists, an adaptation of the J. North Conway nonfiction book from Lion Press about one of the greatest bank robberies in American history. He’ll play George Leslie, who came to New York appearing to be a mannered gent, but secretly put together a crew and masterminded a heist of nearly $3 million in cash and securities from the Manhattan Savings Institution in 1878. Renner and his The Combine partner Don Handfield will produce with Black Bear Pictures’ Teddy Schwarzman. Black Bear Pictures optioned the book and plans to finance development and production.
Will Staples will write the script. Staples most recently sold the science fiction pitch Myth to Fox with Sam Worthington attached and Lorenzo di Bonaventura and James Cameron producing. Staples, who until recently wrote with partner Sean O’Keefe, is teamed with him on an adaptation of the Lorenzo Carcaterra novel Apaches for Jerry Bruckheimer, the pitch World’s Most Wanted at Universal and Kings of the Trail at Walden Media with Gavin Hood attached to direct. Black Bear Pictures is in production on the untitled Ramin Bahrani-directed pic that stars Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, and begins filming A.C.O.D. with Adam Scott next spring.