Though Michael Mann is currently working on the upcoming HBO horse racing drama "Luck" with Dustin Hoffman, don’t be fooled into thinking he’s been seduced completely into the world of cable television. Just a couple of months ago, Mann confirmed he has added two more projects to his plate of potential followups to 2009’s disappointing "Public Enemies." In addition to the biopic/romance tale of war photographer Robert Capa with Eva Green attached and a long gestating adaptation of Ernest Hemingway‘s “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” Mann has added the medieval tale “Agincourt” based on the novel by Bernard Cromwell, as well as the gangster pic "Big Tuna." Well, the latter pic has now received a considerable boost.
Sheldon Turner ("Up In The Air") has been hired to write the screenplay for "Big Tuna" which will tell the story of Chicago mobster Tony Accardo (who went by the titular nickname) and his successor Sam Giancana. “Here’s an older man who was the undisputed boss at a time when the Chicago outfit was the most powerful crime element in America. It becomes a classic tragedy of megalomania and hubris,” Mann told the Financial Times in October.
But what picture will actually come next remains to be seen. In an era of studio belt-tightening (particularly for non-franchise films) combined with the disappointing critical reception and box office performance of Mann’s last couple of films (which each had budgets well north of $100 million) it may come down to dollars and cents to determine which project gets in first (unless he can secure a double whammy of leads like Johnny Depp and Christian Bale as he did for "Public Enemies"). Michael Hirst (”The Tudors,” the Cate Blanchett ‘Elizabeth’ films) has been developing the script for "Agincourt" with Mann for over a year now but given the public’s cool reception to Ridley Scott‘s expensive "Robin Hood" we would wager expensive medieval movies are a low priority for studios right now. That said, gangster pics are an easy sell and if Mann promises more action over mood this time around we could see "Big Tuna" moving forward very quickly.
"Big Tuna" is not set up at any studio yet and Mann paid Turner’s seven-figure salary out of his own development fund. As you might recall, Turner has a directorial debut in the works, "By Virtue Fall," with Colin Farrell and Eric Bana attached that is set to go in front of cameras next year. The plan is for Turner to turn in his script for "Big Tuna" as he gears up to shoot "By Virtue Fall."
We were left fairly dissatisfied with "Public Enemies" and we’d love to see Mann take another stab a period gangster tale. The milieu of cops ‘n’ robbers is one in which Mann excels and with Turner penning the script, "Big Tuna" is off to an intriguing start.