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The Devil In The White City

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EXCLUSIVE: A killer role that Leonardo DiCaprio has wanted to play for a long time is finally coming to the forefront after Paramount just closed a splashy deal to acquire the Erik Larson book The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed America. There was a big auction that had five studios chasing and three bidding aggressively–Universal and Fox were the others–before Paramount captured a package that has DiCaprio starring and re-teaming with his The Wolf Of Wall Street director Martin Scorsese. Billy Ray will write the script. Appian Way’s DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are producing with Stacey Sher, and Scorsese. This is a big one for recently minted Paramount Film Group president Marc Evans; it’s expected to be the next collaboration for DiCaprio and Scorsese, who’ve made five films together.


DiCaprio will play one of the most prolific serial killers in Chicago history, the 19th Century equivalent of Hannibal Lecter. He has wanted this for a long time, but the project’s second wind occurred after Warner Bros let the rights lapse a month ago on the 2003 non-fiction book (Graham Moore was among the writers who did drafts) and came out of conversations with Par’s Brad Grey and Scorsese and Yorn about the studio being at the center of the next DiCaprio-Scorsese teaming, after the studio released The Wolf Of Wall Street and it got five Oscar nominations. Yorn, DiCaprio and Scorsese went out with a new take on the material from Ray that got everybody excited all over again. The trick with this property has been interlacing the two main characters, the producer/architect of the World’s Fair, and the man who works for him and turned out to be a mass murderer. Ray cracked that, and the town flipped for it.


DiCaprio will play Dr. HH Holmes, a cunning serial killer believed to have murdered anywhere from 27 to 200 people at a time when the city of Chicago was enthralled with hosting the World’s Fair of 1893. Holmes constructed The World’s Fair Hotel, an inn more lethal than the Bates Motel, especially for young single women. The sociopath used charm and guile to lure guests into what became known as a “murder castle,” a haunt that had a gas chamber, crematorium and a dissecting table where Holmes would murder his victims and strip their skeletons to sell for medical and scientific study.











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As a true crime buff, I am so hyped for this!! I've been fascinated by Holmes ever since I saw "H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer" on Netflix (not the most well-produced documentary, but interesting as hell). I will have to read Larson's book ASAP!


I'm also excited that it's Scorcese and Leo making it! There are some director/actor pairings I'm tired of seeing (Burton/Depp), but I think these guys have still got it. Their movies are always, at the very least, beautiful to look at and brilliantly acted.


Hmm. I wonder who will play Benjamin Pitezel...

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