EXCLUSIVE: To anyone with an interest in those Enigma codebreakers who helped win WWII and the math geniuses whose work led to the creation of the earliest computers, then the name Alan Turing holds quite a lot of fascination. This British historical figure most prominent from 1940 through 1955 is also the subject of a big spec script sale today. First-time screenwriter Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game was snapped up by Warner Bros in a 7-figure deal. I’ve learned that the studio outbid half a dozen indie companies because Leonardo DiCaprio “has the inside track” to play the lead and was chasing the project. But so far no talent is attached. I hear Ron Howard is interested in directing.
First-time producers Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky owned the rights to Andrew Hodges’ definitive biography Alan Turing: The Enigma and worked with Moore for more than a year to get the script just right. Moore is also a first-time novelist and his crime fiction debut The Sherlockian, filled with Conan Doyle lore, received a rave review in The New York Times by Janet Maslin. People I trust tell me The Imitation Game is the best script they’ve read in years — and they read a lot of scripts. The life story of this English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, computer scientist, criminally prosecuted homosexual, and tortured soul who committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple has it all. (Reportedly, Steve Jobs named his company “Apple” as a tribute to Turing.) “Think The King’s Speech without the huge uplifting ending,” a source tells me. I’m told that CAA agent J.P. Evans, Safran manager Tom Drumm, and Jackoway Tyerman lawyer Alan Wertheimer made today’s sale happen.