EXCLUSIVE: Sam Mendes and DreamWorks have captured screen rights to the Gay Talese article The Voyeur’s Motel that got the town all hot and bothered when the April 11th The New Yorker article hit. Mendes will direct and produce with Steven Spielberg a film based on the article and a book that Talese has written. The book, which bears the same title, will be published July 12th by Grove Press. Word is the deal was at or close to $1 million.
It brings Mendes, who directed the last two James Bond blockbusters Skyfall and Spectre, back to DreamWorks where he made his feature directing debut with the Best Picture Oscar winning American Beauty, followed by The Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road. DreamWorks prevailed over multiple suitors, some of which wanted to turn the property into a film, others for television. CAA brokered the auction. Mendes will produce through his Neal Street banner.
The Voyeur’s Hotel is a long and rather unsettling piece in which a Colorado man named Gerald Foos, a lifelong voyeur, opened a hotel primarily so he could watch guests having sex, through ceiling vents. He fancied himself as an observer of human behavior, but he sometimes did more than observe. Among other things, he was complicit in a murder he caused when he flushed the drugs of a dealer down the toilet and that dealer blamed his girlfriend and strangled her. Foos sought out Talese because of his groundbreaking book on sex, Thy Neighbor’s Wife. Eventually, the man OK’d Talese revealing the story of his lifelong prurient pursuit. From American Beauty to his other films and his celebrated theater productions, Mendes thrives with such complex material.
It is the second big deal this week for Spielberg’s company, coming after Deadline revealed that he will next direct for Amblin Entertainment The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara, an adaptation of the the book by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Kertzer that Tony Kushner has adapted. Mark Rylance, who won the Best Supporting Oscar for Spielberg’s Bridge Of Spies and who plays the title character in Spielberg’s The BFG, will star as Pope Pius IX.
Mendes and Talese are repped by CAA. Mendes is also represented by attorney Melanie Cook of Ziffren Brittenham and Talese is represented for publishing by Lynn Nesbit of Janklow & Nesbit.