The West Memphis Three were in prison for 18 years, but it didn’t take 18 hours until there was word of the feature being developed about their case.
Atom Egoyan is attached to direct a feature based based on Mara Leveritt’s 2003 book “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three,” Egoyan’s reps at WME confirmed today.
According to Deadline, which first reported the project, no financing or distribution is in place. However, this is not a quickie project: The film began development in 2006, when it was set up at Dimension Films. The project eventually went into turnaround and it’s now being produced by Richard Saperstein, Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson and Paul Boardman.
The screenplay is being written by Scott Derrickson and Boardman, whose credits include “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” Derrickson, who also directed “Emily Rose” (as well as the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”), was originally attached as director of “Devil’s Knot” when it was set up at Dimension.
However, concerns that “Devil’s Knot” could skew too far into exploitation should be mitigated by the presence of Egoyan, whose work has received two Oscar nominations and has seen five of his films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. While titles like “Chloe” and “Exotica” have explored prurient topics, he’s also responsible for “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Ararat.”
The West Memphis Three—Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelly— were freed today after 18 years in prison. Echols faced a death sentence, with Baldwin and Misskelly receiving life sentences for their supposed roles in the deaths of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, who were found murdered and mutilated in a wooded area in West Memphis, Ark. in May 1993. At the time of their arrests, Misskelley was 17, Baldwin was 16 and Echols was 18.
All three maintain that they did not commit the murders. In their post-court appearance earlier today, Echols said that while the state considers the murder case closed, he plans to continue the process of clearing their names.