EXCLUSIVE: In what becomes the first priority project for Robert and Susan Downey’s Team Downey production shingle, Warner Bros has hired Anthony Peckham to write Yucatan as a star vehicle for Downey. The Downeys will produce with Dan Lin. Peckham is being paid seven-figures to start over on a project that the studio has wanted to make for half a decade. Peckham will script the picture for Downey to play a renegade deep-sea salvage expert hired to steal a mysterious hidden treasure hidden deep underwater in the Mayan ruins of Yucatan. The project is based on an original story created by acting great Steve McQueen, who compiled 1500 pages of notes and storyboards that filled 15 notebooks. McQueen, who died in 1980, wrote the notes in the late 60s but never got to the start line on a project he very much wanted to star in.
The heist project was set up at Warner Bros in 2005, right after McQueen’s son Chad and godson Lance Sloane discovered the notebooks in an old trunk. It stalled until the Downeys took custody after they launched their first look deal at Warner Bros last June. That deal came after Downey starred in Sherlock Holmes and the upcoming Todd Phillips-directed comedy Due Date, and agreed to another Sherlock Holmes installment which he is currently shooting in the UK. Peckham has been a go-to writer for the studio, and worked with Downey on Sherlock Holmes. His recent script work also includes Book of Eli and Invictus. He also was just hired to rewrite the next installment of the Jack Ryan franchise that Jack Bender will direct with Chris Pine starring, and he recently scripted Deep Sea Cowboys for DreamWorks and he’s writing The Limit for Sony Pictures Entertainment, with Tobey Maguire attached as star and producer. WME and Anonymous Content rep Peckham with Linda Lichter.