A book that Hollywood has long tried to wrangle is once again being given a fresh jolt of life, with a killer creative team. Erik Larson‘s terrific book “The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America” has been kicking around for years, but has failed to get made despite high profile folks like David Fincher and Kathryn Bigelow taking a look at various points. But this combo is one that’s hard to beat.
Deadline reports that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio will continue their bromance with the project, with Billy Ray (“Shattered Glass,” “Captain Phillips“) tasked with writing the script. The true story is a fascinating one, with the book recounting the depraved acts of a deadly serial killer as it plays out against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair, and how the event quickly transformed the mid-sized city into a bustling, chaotic metropolis — the perfect playground for a murderer. Here’s the book synopsis:
Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.
DiCaprio will take the role of the killer Henry H. Holmes, which he has been attached to for a while, and while Graham Moore (“The Imitation Game“) did pen a draft at one point, they’ll be using Ray’s new screenplay which caused a multi-studio bidding war going forward. ‘White City’ is set up at Paramount and expected to be the next collaboration for the director and star. It’s certainly great source material, and if you haven’t read the book, now’s the time.