EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures has closed a deal with Sean O’Keefe to adapt The Esperanza Fire, based on the John Maclean book about a wildland fire started by an arsonist that killed a tightly knit forest service engine crew that bravely battled the blaze. Maclean, the son of A River Runs Through It author Norman Maclean, was an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune who has written several books around wildfire disasters. This one described the equivalent of ‘The Perfect Storm’ of wildland blazes. The firefighters who perished were pillars of their community, which was devastated by their deaths. An “area ignition” that took the lives of the men resulted in the first conviction of a wildland arsonist for first-degree murder and the death penalty.
O’Keefe wrote the Black List script The Paperman, which is in development with producer Joe Roth, as well as Riders On The Storm at Fox. He also adapted Apaches with Will Staples for Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer, The Cruelest Miles for Walden Media and Mark Johnson, and World’s Most Wanted for Universal and Original Film. O’Keefe is represented by WME, Brian Lutz Management, and Bloom Hergott. Legendary’s Alex Hedlund will oversee it. This comes as Legendary transitions from Warner Bros to Universal, a move that means it will not be involved in future installments of Man Of Steel. It will instead be a co-financier on the Christopher Nolan-directed Interstellar. The company this summer released Pacific Rim and the Jackie Robinson pic 42, with Godzilla coming.