In what might have Catch Me If You Can potential, 20th Century Fox has bought movie rights to the story of the search for 18-year old fugitive Colton Harris-Moore, with David Gordon Green attached to shepherd the project. The studio bought Taking Flight: The Hunt for a Young Outlaw, a proposal for a book by Bob Friel, based on his recent Outside magazine article about the futile attempt to collar a kid who has made a mockery of local authorities and become a folk anti-hero for his penchant for stealing luxury cars, taking planes for joyrides, and breaking into vacation homes and helping himself to the owners’ food. The youth is believed to be hiding out in the Northwest’s San Juan Islands, and his daring misdeeds and ability to elude the police by hiding in the woods, has gained him a following. He’s got a Facebook fan page with over 25,000 fans, and Time magazine dubbed him “America’s Most Wanted Teen.” It is unclear whether Gordon Green will direct it, but he’ll produce through his Rough House banner. After his breakthrough on George Washington, Green has plugged into the youth demo directing Pineapple Express and most recently Your Highness, the Universal comedy that stars Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman, James Franco and Danny McBride, which the studio releases October 1.
Studios have been sluggish in book options lately, but Green sparked some life into the package, with a take and especially a third act that swung Fox to make a deal with CAA. The film deal came right after Joe Veltre’s The Veltre Company got eight publishing houses bidding before selling the book to Hyperion editor in chief Elisabeth Dyssegaard for a six-figure advance. Making a movie like this is tricky, as proven in the Nick Cassavetes-directed drama Alpha Dog. While Cassavetes made his film about the murder of a teen because of a drug deal dispute, the major suspect, Jesse James Hollywood, was years on the lam, and never expected to be caught. He was apprehended in Brazil in 2005 and by the time the movie came out in 2006, it created legal complications and the lead prosecutor was replaced because he had cooperated with the movie. The two cases are very different, though. Hollywood was sentenced in January to life in prison after being convicted of kidnapping and first degree murder. Colton Harris-Moore hasn’t harmed anybody.