EXCLUSIVE: Voltage Pictures has put together a rights package to tell the story of controversial Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who became a major supplier of security in war-torn Iraq, and reportedly lived a double life as a CIA asset who assembled hit teams to take out al-Qaeda members. His lucrative business was ruined seven years ago when a carload of Blackwater employees opened fire on a crowd and shot 30 Iraqis, killing 17 of them. Four of those employees were convicted for the shooting, one of first-degree murder.
The rights package includes life rights of Prince, his book Civilian Warriors, and Adam Ciralsky’s 2010 Vanity Fair article “Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy.” The film puts Voltage chief Nicolas Chartier back in the center of a hot-button Middle East drama; he shared a Best Picture Oscar for The Hurt Locker. Voltage’s Craig Flores and Chartier will produce and Voltage will finance; Ciralsky will also be aboard as a producer.
The filmmakers say the film will chronicle Prince’s life story and the rise and fall of his intensely secret and highly controversial company. Prince is a former Navy SEAL and heir to an auto parts fortune who put those resources to use building a facility in North Carolina swampland to harvest the world’s finest Special Forces-trained bodyguards. This became a thriving business after the bombing of the USS Cole, 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, and Prince oversaw billion-dollar private security contracts before the slaughter of civilians in Iraq’s Nissour Square hurt the company and led to Prince being outed as a CIA asset that placed him on the al-Qaeda hit list. He sold his company in 2010 and retreated from public view.
Voltage is meeting with writers, who’ll have access to extensive research and former Blackwater insiders as Prince is eager to tell his story.
“I’ve wanted to do this film for a long time,” Chartier said. “Having spent considerable time with Erik, I can easily say he is the most fascinating man I’ve ever met and there is a great movie in his life. Lawrence Of Arabia meets Jason Bourne meets Tony Stark. I can’t wait to do justice to his story, so little of which is publicly known.”
Said Prince: “From The Hurt Locker to Dallas Buyers Club, I have been a fan of Voltage’s work. I am thrilled that they will share with audiences how a team of ex-frogmen started a business in the swamps of North Carolina and, through innovation, efficiency and daring, took on some of the most challenging and contentious missions in the war on terror.”