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Universal, Tom Hanks Traveling to Hitler's Berlin for 'In the Garden of Beasts'

Tom Hanks, $35 million
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The studio and Hanks' Playtone have optioned film rights to Erik Larson's nonfiction bestseller with Hanks eyeing it as a starring vehicle.

Universal has optioned the movie rights to Erik Larson’s nonfiction best-seller In the Garden of Beasts for Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman to produce via the duo’s Playtone banner. Hanks is eyeing the project as a potential starring vehicle.

The book tells the true tale of William Dodd, the United States' reluctant and mild-mannered ambassador to Berlin in 1933, and his daughter Martha, a vivacious socialite who had romantic affairs with a Gestapo official and a Soviet spy. Dodd and his family at first naively navigated life in Nazi Germany (Dodd’s daughter was excited when Hitler kissed her hand) but they slowly gained awareness of the mounting brutality around them.

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The book, whose full title is In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, was published in May.

This isn’t Larson’s first brush with Hollywood; the author is known for writing The Devil and the White City, another nonfiction tome in development by Leonardo DiCaprio and his Appian Way shingle. Larson is repped by Paradigm and Black Inc.

Beasts continues Hanks’ fascination with World War II-themed projects, and history in general. His Playtone was behind the Emmy-winning miniseries Band of Brothers, The Pacific and John Adams. The CAA-repped actor next stars in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Production co-president Peter Cramer will oversee for Universal.

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