EXCLUSIVE: Stuart Beattie has been set by Voltage Films to script the fact-based film about the controversial private military contracting firm Blackwater and its founder Erik Prince. Beattie will tell the story using Prince’s autobiography, Civilian Warriors, and the Adam Ciralsky Vanity Fair exposé article about Prince entitled Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy. Voltage’s Craig Flores and Nicolas Chartier will produce and the company will finance the drama, which Ciralsky will also produce.
The project is untitled, and Voltage made the deal for Prince’s book and the rights to tell the story of how the ex-Navy SEAL and heir to an auto parts fortune bought thousands of acres of North Carolina swampland and built a training facility for elite special forces mercenaries. Terror acts from the USS Cole bombing to 9/11 led to high demand for his for-hire services, and Prince’s Blackwater became a major supplier of security in war-torn Iraq, with classified contracts worth billions and a relationship with the CIA so cozy that the agency operated out of a secret annex in Blackwater’s North Carolina facility.
At the same time, Prince 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. In the scrutiny, Prince was outed as a CIA asset and placed on al-Qaeda’s hit list. He sold his company in 2010.
Babacar Diene is shepherding for Voltage. Paradigm-repped Beattie’s scripting credits include Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl, as well as 30 Days Of Night, the Michael Mann-directed Collateral, the Baz Luhrmann-directed Australia, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra and I, Frankenstein. The transplanted Aussie went back home to direct his script adaptation of Tomorrow When The War Began, and he scripted an episode of the four-part Australian miniseries Deadline Gallipoli for Sam Worthington. The Blackwater project puts Voltage back in the hot-button sand venue that really launched the company, with the Best Picture Oscar winner The Hurt Locker. Voltage then financed Dallas Buyers Club and has the upcoming U.S. drone warfare drama Good Kill, directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Ethan Hawke.