Paramount Lands 'Battle for Alcatraz' Thriller From 'Bridge of Spies' Writer (Exclusive)
Matt Charman will make his first foray into producing with the true story-based project.
In a competitive situation, Paramount has beat out five other studios to nab the hot pitch Battle for Alcatraz.
Neil Widener and Gavin James, who wrote the Romeo & Juliet-inspired spec Verona set up at Sony, will write the script, which is set in California's infamous prison. The project also marks Bridge of Spies writer Matt Charman's first foray into producing: Charman pitched the story and will executive produce.
The project tells the true story of the failed 1946 escape attempt from Alcatraz Prison by six inmates that incited a full-blown military response — turning the world’s most notorious prison into a war-torn battlefield.
A source pegs the deal at mid-six figures against seven figures, with Lionsgate and Fox among those in the running.
Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, who is in post-production on Zach Whedon’s Come and Find Me and has Midnight Special coming out in the winter, is producing. The project also highlights the synergy at play between management firm Grandview and its production partner Automatik Entertainment, which Kavanaugh-Jones heads up. Grandview, which reps Charman, Widener and James, is aiming to package its more seasoned and credited writers with up-and-comers, leveraging experience and access.
Paramount's Daniele Bernfeld is overseeing for the studio, which ironically is going back to the infamous prison with this project. Paramount was the studio behind 1979’s Clint Eastwood classic Escape From Alcatraz, which also was based on a true story but chronicled a different event.
Charman has several irons in the fire after writing the script for Spielberg's Bridge of Spies, which stars Tom Hanks and is now in theaters. He also has sold a pitch to Fox 2000 with Nina Jacobson producing titled Wilderness and wrote the script for the Boston Marathon bombing story Patriot's Day, to star Mark Wahlberg. He's repped additionally by CAA, Independent Talent Group's Michael McCoy and Hansen, Jacobson.
Widener and James are also handled by CAA.