EXCLUSIVE: Michael R. Roskam, who got a Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar nomination last year for his Belgian film Bullhead, has been set by Focus Features to make his Hollywood feature helming debut with The Tiger, a drama based on the John Vaillant book that was adapted by Babel scribe Guillermo Arriaga.
This film was set up originally as a directing vehicle for Darren Aronofsky, who stepped off the project to direct the Russell Crowe-starrer Noah. Brad Pitt produces with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B and Aronofsky is producing with Protozoa cohorts Mark Heyman and Ari Handel. The book was published last year by the Random House imprint Knopf, and it is a co-production between Focus and Random House Productions. The film is a fact-based story that takes place on the Siberian plain, where humans encroach on a tiger’s habitat with tragic results. There is a great male lead role of an animal activist and researcher who must stop a man-eating tiger that is attacking the inhabitants of a remote village in Russia’s Far East. The tiger isn’t just killing people, it’s murdering them, and the team that tracks him know their nemesis is cunning, injured, and starving, making it even more dangerous.
It becomes the second significant project in Hollywood for Roskam, who is teaming with Michael Mann and Breaking Bad executive producer Mark Johnson on the HBO pilot script Buda Bridge, a Belgian-set crime story that takes place in Brussels in the near future. It unfolds when a woman is found dead on Buda Bridge, which leads to a series of violent crimes and strange science that bring mayhem to the dark capital of the European state. Roskam is writing the script and will direct the pilot. Since Bullhead created buzz during Oscar season, Roskam has been offered numerous projects, but The Tiger is the first feature he said yes to. He is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content and Alan Wertheimer.