Mark Romanek is in final negotiations to direct Norco, a thriller based on a script by Adair Cole that MadRiver Pictures will finance and produce. The pic is inspired by the true story of the 1980 Norco, CA, bank robbery where five robbers were heavily armed with assault rifles, shotguns and pipe bombs when they stormed a Security Pacific Bank branch. The subsequent shootout and high-speed chase — a 20-plus-mile running gun battle with one helicopter shot down — was the most violent in American history and the first step in today’s militarization of police forces. By the end of the shootout and subsequent second shootout in the foothills, two of the five robbers were dead along with a San Bernardino Sheriff’s deputy, and eight other officers were wounded.

MadRiver’s Marc Butan and Mason Novick are producing, with Edward Fee executive producing and Michelle Knudsen co-producing.

“Adair wrote a script that tells this story with a raw, almost matter-of-fact intensity that it makes you feel like you are there,” Butan said. “Adding Mark to the mix brings it all home, as he is one of the few filmmakers out there who provides the visual style this piece calls for but also gets the performances from actors.”

MadRiver’s slate includes Liam Neeson’s A Willing Patriot which was picked up this month by Open Road Films. It also has John Hillcoat’s Triple 9, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and The Lost City Of Z which is the James Gray-helmed pic starring Charlie Hunnam that starts shooting in August.

Romanek’s credits include Never Let Me Go and One Hour Photo. He is repped by CAA and LBI Entertainment. Cole is repped by UTA and MXN Entertainment.