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After spending years in limbo, the adaptation of Torso, the graphic novel by comics superstar Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko, is coming back to life.
David Lowery, the filmmaker who drew much praise for his Sundance film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, has come aboard to write and direct the thriller, which will be produced by Circle of Confusion, the shingle behind AMC’s The Walking Dead. Bendis and Andreyko are also producing, as are David and Toby Halbrooks of Sailor Bear, Lowery’s production banner.
Hollywood has tried for more than a decade to get its hooks into Torso, which was written by Bendis and Andreyko and drawn by Bendis in the late 1990s.
The true story of Elliot Ness’ time after his Al Capone days, when he moved to Cleveland and got embroiled in the hunt of serial killer who was leaving torsos in the river and taunting notes to police, attracted David Fincher, Ehren Kruger, Bill Mechanic, Todd McFarlane and Don Murphy in the mid-2000s.
Fincher was going to direct an adaptation for Paramount as a follow-up to his Zodiac and even had Matt Damon attached, but at the last moment, Paramount blinked. The studio thought the budget was too high, and more importantly, saw Fincher’s desire to do it in black-and-white as a risky commercial bet.
The project fell under its own weight and the rights eventually reverted to Bendis and Andreyko. Bendis, in the intervening years, has become one of the biggest names in comics, working exclusively for Marvel. In March alone, the comics he wrote — Uncanny X-Men, All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, among other — sold more than a million copies, a rare feat in today’s publishing marketplace. Andreyko too has moved on to mainstream comics, writing books for DC and Marvel such as Manhunter and Captain America and Bucky.
Torso is now starting from scratch and is eschewing the studio route for a lower-budgeted, indie approach that will aim to be a high-minded, period serial killer movie.
Bendis said that while the project has had its ups and downs over the last 15 years, he’s never lost belief in its cinematic potential.
“It’s a cool true story that very little people know of,” he said. “You think you know the story of Elliot Ness? You don’t. You know the story of serial killers? You don’t. And that’s how I kept the faith.”
Lowery’s Saints was described by critics as a crime saga by way of an art film, with THR’s Todd McCarthy comparing the director to Terrence Malick and saying the film serves “most decisively to put director-writer David Lowery on the map.”
Since Saints bowed, Lowery has kept things varied. He has booked a gig writing a remake of Pete’s Dragon for Disney and is teaming up with Robert Redford on the indie crime drama The Old Man and the Gun.
He is repped by WME and Frankfurt Kurnit.
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