EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a testament that good projects sometimes rise above development hell. Benedict Cumberbatch, who figures to be a big man on campus at the Toronto Film Festival with 12 Years A Slave, The Fifth Estate and August: Osage County getting big premieres, is negotiating to star in Lost City Of Z, which James Gray will direct from a script he adapted. Panorama Media will finance the film and handle foreign sales.
The film is based on the David Grann bestselling book. Cumberbatch is in talks to play Percy Fawcett, who in 1925 headed into the depths of the Amazon jungles in Brazil. Fawcett was there to map the jungle and, hobbled by malaria, he discovered a mythical city he called The Lost City Of Z. Scorned by peers who claimed that this ancient kingdom was a fraud, Fawcett headed back into the jungle with his son and one other, braving the dangers of disease, insects, snakes, poison darts and other hazards to reinforce his discovery. None of them were ever seen again and it remains one of the great exploration mysteries of the 20th Century.
Plan B‘s Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas (who worked with Cumberbatch on 12 Years A Slave) will produce. Plan B has been developing the project for several years, and it initially seemed like Pitt would be heading into the jungles. Cumberbatch most recently starred in Star Trek Into Darkness and has The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug coming later this year and will play Alan Turing in the Morten Tyldum-directed Imitation Game that’s backed by Black Bear Pictures. He seems an intriguing choice to play Fawcett and is certainly a fast-rising leading man.
Cumberbatch is repped by UTA and John Grant of Conway van Gelder Grant in the UK.