EXCLUSIVE: After tackling corruption in high finance with Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, Oliver Stone is turning his attention to a three-way romance and the Mexican drug cartels. I’ve learned that Stone has just closed a deal to direct and produce Savages, a Don Winslow novel that Simon & Schuster will publish in July. Winslow and Stone will collaborate on the script, with the author writing the first draft while Stone completes the Wall Street sequel for April 23 release.
In Savages, two pals from Laguna Beach pals share the same girlfriend and a thriving business growing and distributing the best-quality pot on the planet. When they resist being muscled by a Mexican drug cartel , the girl is kidnapped and the ransom is every cent they’ve made for the last five years. They agree to pay but hatch an alternate plan to get her back, get revenge, and then get lost.
I’m told that Stone hopes to make Savages his follow-up to Wall Street 2. He believed in it enough to put up his own money, a maneuver that’s growing in popularity with control-craving directors. It allowed Michael Mann to call the shots when he set The Fields with District 9-financier QED, with his daughter Ami Canaan Mann directing Sam Worthington. Steven Soderbergh just got Warner Bros to step up for his $60 million action-thriller Contagion after walking in with script, start date and a cast of Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Savages is the first book in a new publishing deal that Inkwell’s Richard Pine made with S&S publisher David Rosenthal that moves Winslow out of Knopf. Film adaptations have done wonders to heighten the profile of crime/mystery authors like Shutter Island‘s Dennis Lehane. Winslow is poised for a breakthrough after false starts on several of his books, including an adaptation of The Winter of Frankie Machine that had Robert De Niro poised to star for Martin Scorsese and then Michael Mann, before the project cratered and the rights went back to the author. Shane Salerno is executive producer of Savages, and CAA made the movie deal.