EXCLUSIVE: In what is shaping up to be one of the bigger movie package deals of the year, Sony Pictures, Cross Creek Pictures and Macro are in final negotiations to land Inner City. They are making a production commitment on a dramatic thriller that Nightcrawler‘s Dan Gilroy wrote and will direct with Denzel Washington starring. The picture will begin production in Los Angeles in March. In the deal configuration, Cross Creek will be co-financier under its Sony deal. Jennifer Fox is producing with Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver. Fox produced Nightcrawler (she works regularly with that pic’s producer Tony Gilroy) and she and Dan Gilroy developed this. Black has worked closely with Washington on The Equalizer and The Magnificent Seven. Charles D. King’s Macro was co-financier on the Washington-directed Fences and will be co-financing this and so will Lone Star Capital. Other Nightcrawler guys who are part of this: DP Robert Elswit and the filmmaker’s brother and editor John Gilroy.

The under $40 million pic is Michael Clayton meets The Verdict, a legal thriller set in Los Angeles. Washington plays a hard nosed liberal lawyer named Roman J. Israel who has been fighting the good fight forever while others take the credit. When his partner, the firm’s front man, has a heart attack, Israel suddenly takes on that role. He finds out some unsettling things about what the crusading law firm as done that run afoul of his values of helping the poor and dispossessed, and finds himself in existential crisis that leads to extreme action.

Gilroy captured the seamy side of Los Angeles in his sleeper indie hit Nightcrawler (he got an Oscar nomination for script and the film won two Spirit Awards) and with brother Tony Gilroy he wrote The Bourne Legacy. Washington is about to come out in the Antoine Fuqua-directed The Magnificent Seven from MGM and Paramount, and he directed and stars in Fences, which Paramount releases Christmas Day.

CAA and WME have been instrumental in this auction: CAA repping Gilroy, and WME repping Washington.