Leonardo DiCaprio is set to star as Jonestown cult leader Jim Jones in the upcoming feature film biopic “Jim Jones,” which Oscar-winner DiCaprio will also produce. An MGM representative confirmed the news to IndieWire that DiCaprio is in final negotiations to play the 1970s cult guru, who orchestrated the mass suicide that took place on November 18, 1978. Altogether, a total of 909 people died at the settlement, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma, and at a Temple-run building in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city.
MGM scooped up rights to the film, which was penned by Scott Rosenberg, a writer on the first “Venom” film from 2018, as well as “Jumanji: Next Level.” Deadline has reported a seven-figure deal for the acquisition. Rosenberg is also set to executive-produce “Jim Jones.”
An Oscar winner for Best Actor for “The Revenant,” DiCaprio will produce “Jim Jones” for his Appian Way company alongside president of production Jennifer Davisson.
Per Deadline, “Jones founded the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis in 1955, and promoted it as a fully integrated congregation promoting Christian Socialism. By the 1970s he openly rejected traditional Christianity and claimed that he was God. He constructed Jonestown in Guyana in 1974 and spurred a following to live with him there as he touted a socialist paradise free from U.S. government oppression. Amid rumors of human rights abuses, the U.S. government sent a delegation led by U.S. Representative Leo Ryan in November 1978. Ryan along with four other Jonestown defectors would eventually be gunned down by Jones’ followers. Following the shooting, Jones orchestrated a mass murder-suicide of his followers, which took 918 commune members, 304 of them children in an act that entailed drinking Flavor Aid laced with cyanide.”
DiCaprio, meanwhile, next up will star in Netflix’s Adam McKay comedy “Don’t Look Up,” opposite a starry cast including Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and Ariana Grande. He also next stars in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” over at Apple, which reportedly wrapped production earlier this year.
On MGM’s slate this fall is “House of Gucci” from director Ridley Scott, another fact-based murder drama, scripted from the true story of Patrizia Reggiani’s hit on her husband, the mogul of the Gucci fashion house, starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. MGM also released “No Time to Die,” the latest film in the James Bond franchise, this fall to a strong box office. Next up from MGM is Paul Thomas Anderson’s much-anticipated San Fernando Valley love letter “Licorice Pizza,” opening in late November in limited release followed by a wide play on Christmas Day.