EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is making a deal with Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski to script the feature on John McAfee, which John Requa and Glenn Ficarra hope to direct and produce with Conde Nast Entertainment, McAfee is the eccentric Silicon Valley entrepreneur who sold multiple estates and his possessions to move to the Belize jungle, arm and fund his own private police force, and who was arrested for suspicion of complicity in the death of a neighbor. That neighbor had complained about McAfee’s barking dogs, which the entrepreneur said subsequently were fed poison and died. The neighbor was found shortly after, killed by an execution-style bullet to the head. The movie is based on John McAfee’s Last Stand, a deliciously detailed article for Wired Magazine written by Joshua Davis which the studio bought previously for Requa and Ficarra, who helmed Crazy, Stupid, Love for Warner Bros. Davis will also be a producer.
McAfee got rich by creating anti-virus software for computers and marketing it cleverly enough that it widely became the program of choice for many corporations. The tone of the movie is essentially how an entrepreneur and former drug user whose fortune was built selling fear and paranoia, sold his estates and toys to build the equivalent of an armed compound in the Belize jungle and became consumed by the same kind of paranoia that others were out to get him.
The project was set up through Conde Nast Entertainment. While film head Jeremy Steckler and CNE president Dawn Ostroff normally use back-list and current magazine articles to serve as movie ideas, here they heard about the McAfee story before the murder and got Wired to finance Davis’ trip to Belize to shadow the entrepreneur for three weeks because they felt it might make a good movie. Davis came back with the goods — from stories about McAfee’s teenaged girlfriend trying to murder and rob him (he didn’t send her away), to photos of the tattooed McAfee holding a gun to his own head. This is one of five percolating picture projects for CNE, which also has the William Langewiesche Vanity Fair mob-in-Naples saga The Camorra Never Sleeps being scripted by Daniel Pyne; Robert Draper’s GQ article The Horse Whisperer being scripted by John Burnham Schwartz; and David Grann’s New Yorker article The Old Man And The Gun that has David Lowery attached to direct and write, with Robert Redford reportedly interested in starring. There are about 20 other projects being assembled behind those.
The McAfee saga is right in the wheelhouse of Alexander & Karaszewski, whose list of memorable scripts based on real eccentric characters includes the Andy Kaufman pic Man On The Moon, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, and the Tim Burton-directed Ed Wood. The scribes most recently re-teamed with Burton, who’s directing their true-story script Big Eyes, with Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz starring. Alexander and Karaszewski are producing Big Eyes with Lynette Howell. The writers will start on McAfee when they finish writing a miniseries on O.J. Simpson for Fox.
CAA reps both the writers and Conde Nast Entertainment.