Austin Butler to Star in Adaptation of Don Winslow’s ‘City on Fire’

The “Elvis” star will produce what Sony is hoping will be the first in a crime drama trilogy

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Austin Butler will star in Sony 3000 Pictures’ adaptation of “City on Fire.” The Don Winslow-penned novel, the first in a series, uses elements of “The Iliad,” “The Odyssey,” “Aeneid” and other Greek dramas and puts them in a contemporary crime sandbox. Butler will play Danny Ryan, a street criminal-turned-ruthless leader amid a gang war between Irish and Italian crime families in New England.

The film will mark the actor’s first role since his Oscar-nominated for playing Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis,” as well as his first as a producer. Butler will produce the picture alongside David Heyman and Shane Salerno.

3000 Pictures exec Drew Reed was instrumental in tracking the series, while Elizabeth Gabler and Marisa Paiva are overseeing for the studio. All parties hope that the first film will be successful enough to justify feature film adaptations of the next two novels in the series. The second installment, “City of Dreams,” will be published on April 18.

Noted 3000 head Gabler: “We are elated that venerable producer David Heyman, alongside Austin Butler, will join forces with Shane Salerno to make Don Winslow’s spectacular trilogy, starting with “City on Fire.” Don is an iconic novelist and a true master of the genre of suspenseful crime fiction and has created one of the most memorable modern-day heroes in Danny Ryan, the complex and compelling protagonist of this trilogy. It is a dream come true to envision Austin, with his uniquely brilliant and charismatic talent, bringing this character and story to cinematic life.”

“Like so many people around the world I was amazed by Austin Butler’s Oscar nominated performance in Elvis,” Winslow said. “I’ve had a number of conversations with Austin about this trilogy that I’ve been working on for almost thirty years of my life and I have been deeply impressed by his commitment to playing Danny Ryan as well as his passion to also produce the three films with David and Shane and Elizabeth and Marisa.”

Butler will next star in “Dune: Part Two,” Jeff Nichols’ “The Bikeriders” and the Apple TV miniseries “Masters of Air.” His most high-profile pre-“Elvis” gig was a small role as Tex Watson in Sony and producer Hayman’s “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood.” Prior to that, he spent a decade plying his trade and building up his heart throb/matinee idol credentials on YA-skewing shows and movies like “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure,” “Zoey 101” and “The Carrie Diaries.”

He is clearly being groomed or perceived as a potential old-school movie star, so time will tell to what extent he’s a butts-in-seats draw when he’s not playing a marquee character like Elvis Presley.