After many years in development at Warner Bros., Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese’s planned serial killer movie “The Devil in the White City” has found a new home at Paramount, which just won a bidding war for the high-profile project, an individual familiar with the situation has told TheWrap.
Billy Ray (“Captain Phillips”) adapted Erik Larson’s 2003 nonfiction book “The Devil In the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America,” and it was Ray’s fresh take on the material that had buyers excited last week after WB let its option lapse on the film rights to the book.
DiCaprio will play Dr. H.H. Holmes, a prolific serial killer who stalked the fairgrounds at Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893. The charming sociopath is rumored to have killed up to 200 people and studied the remains for science.
“Devil in the White City” is a great project that languished for years at Warner Bros., which could never quite crack the material despite hiring an army of writers, including Oscar winner Graham Moore (“The Imitation Game”). The film offers DiCaprio the chance to channel his inner villain, and it’s the kind of role that could bring the actor his first Oscar, if “The Revenant” doesn’t take that honor next February.
DiCaprio and Scorsese last teamed with Paramount on “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which howled its way to five Oscar nominations. They also collaborated on “The Aviator,” “The Departed,” “Gangs of New York” and “Shutter Island.”
Ray wrote and directed “The Secret In Their Eyes,” which STX will release on Nov. 20. The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman.
DiCaprio next stars in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “The Revenant,” which 20th Century Fox and New Regency will release on Christmas Day.
Larson is repped by APA and David Black Literary Agency.