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The feature adaptation of Devil in the White City is back at Paramount, with Leonardo DiCaprio having enlisted his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese to help make his passion project into a reality.
Paramount, after having acquired and let go of the project twice before, has scooped up the project, with DiCaprio on board to star, Scorsese to direct and Billy Ray to write the script, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The project was previously at Warners and has been kicking around in development on and off since about 2003. But it always attracted the best talent.
Tom Cruise was to star and produce an adaptation and later Kathryn Bigelow was attached to direct and produce. Paramount let the rights lapse in 2004 and again in 2007; the period setting posed budgetary challenges.
It was in 2010 when DiCaprio, long fascinated by the dark subject matter, nabbed the rights himself, spending the last six years nurturing it.
White City is a nonfiction story that focuses on the lives of two men who turned the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair into their playground. One of them, Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, in a short period of time was forced to overcome immense obstacles to construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. The other, H.H. Holmes, was a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair. Holmes devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his charismatic personality to lure victims to their death.
DiCaprio will play the murderous Holmes. The plan is for this to be Scorsese’s next movie.
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