EXCLUSIVE: Black Label Media has acquired rights to an untitled Operation Pandora Project feature film from Jason Bateman’s Aggregate Films. The pic centers on the 2011 scandal that rocked the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and centers on Operation Pandora’s Box, a secret program masterminded by the LASD to hide an informant inmate that was feeding the FBI dirt on abuse at the Men’s Central Jail.
The federal sting that uncovered the plot is the meat of the movie, which follows an upstart FBI agent, an idealistic sheriff’s deputy and the inmate as they navigate a web of corruption within the county jail system. Jesse Zwick (About Alex) and Michael Weintraub will write the script.
In all, several sheriff’s deputies were arrested as part of the sting and the broader probe of inmate abuse. That included onetime department No. 2 Paul Tanaka, who was indicted for obstruction of justice. Longtime Sheriff Lee Baca resigned amid the controversy in January 2014 but was never charged.
Bateman is producing the pic under his Aggregate Films with Aaron Schmidt, while Black Label Media’s Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill will finance and produce. Jon Schumacher will oversee the development for Black Label.
This is the latest intriguing project for Black Label, which is behind this year’s awards-season player Sicario starring Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. It also recently set Black Mass scribe Mark Mallouk to script a film about Frank Calabrese Sr and the crime family he ran out of Chicago known as The Outfit.
Formed in 2013 by Smith and the Luckinbills, Black Label’s credits include Begin Again, The Good Lie and the Yann Demange-directed ’71. It is also producing Jean-Marc Valle’s Demolition Fox Searchlight is releasing in March.
Bateman and Aggregate are repped by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, and Hansen, Jacobson. Zwick and Weintraub are repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham, with Zwick also with Principato-Young Entertainment.