Warner Bros., Guy Ritchie Team for Period Love Story 'Empire Rising' (Exclusive)

Empire Rising Thomas Kelly Book Cover - P 2013

Empire Rising Thomas Kelly Book Cover - P 2013

Warner Bros. has picked up Empire Rising, a novel by Thomas Kelly set against the construction of the Empire State Building, which will be developed as a potential directing vehicle for Guy Ritchie.

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Kelly, who is also a writer and producer on BBC America’s Copper, will pen the adaptation, which will be produced by Ritchie and his partner Lionel Wigram.

The novel, published in 2006, told of an epic love triangle set in 1930 just as construction on the iconic building was beginning and the Depression was beginning to take hold. On one side is the Irish immigrant Michael Briody, a steelworker on the building, who also is running guns for the IRA. On the other is Johnny Farell, a bagman for Mayor Jimmy Walker who is adapt at running the corrupt political system. And in the middle is a beautiful artist named Grace Masterson. Historical figures also make appearances.

Niija Kuykendall is overseeing for Warners. Peter Eskelsen will exec produce.

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Kelly clearly has a thing for olde tyme New York. Copper, which he is exec producing and showrunning, focuses on an Irish cop in 1865. He was also a writer and supervising producer on CBS’ Blue Bloods, which told of a family of New York cops.

The deal is another example of the faith Warners has in Ritchie and Wigram. The filmmaker’s last three movies have been released by the Warners (including the two successful Sherlock Holmes movies), and he is pre-production on a big-screen version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, for the studio. U.N.C.L.E. will be the first production under Richie and Wigram’s Warner-based banner. (Richie is directing from a screenplay he co-wrote with Wigram. The two are producing with John Davis.)

Ritchie is repped by CAA and attorney Matthew Saver. Kelly is repped by WME, the Gotham Group, Jackoway Tyerman and on the publishing side by Sobel Weber Associates.

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