EXCLUSIVE: Writer/director Chuck Russell has come aboard The Seven Sins, which is based on two books from author Jon Land, the stories of which were conceived by Las Vegas entrepreneur Fabrizio Boccardi and was loosely based on something that happened in Bocccardi’s own life. The Seven Sins is designed to combine both superhero and thriller elements into one film.

Brian Douglas

The story revolves around a strong protagonist named Michael Tiranno who grew up on a farm in the Sicilian countryside and is given an ancient medallion by his dying father which sets him on an unexpected path. After his family is wiped about by his father’s enemies, Tiranno is driven to vigilantism. He eventually finds himself fighting his way to the top of the gaming world only to face those same enemies and a formidable villain. “They’ve come up with a fantastic villain,” said Russell. “It employs Shakespearian-level characters.”

Russell will combine elements from both books — The Seven Sins: The Tyrant Ascending — which was named best thriller by the Library Journal after it published in 2008 — and Black Scorpion: The Tyrant Reborn published in 2015. The ideas for the character and the book (Tiranno means “tyrant” in Italian) came from Boccardi who knows the gaming world well.

The Seven Sins is the name of the book’s fictional casino in Las Vegas that acts is the backdrop of the story. It is also a vision for what Boccardi might have done with the Riviera Casino when he attempted to acquire it in 2003. Boccardi has tried to buy many casinos over the years, including The Desert Inn and The New Frontier Hotel and Casino.

Boccardi and Russell were introduced about three months ago by a mutual friend and after a three-hour conversation in Beverly Hills, the Las Vegas producer hired Russell to begin work on the project. Russell, of course, directed a young Jim Carrey in the box office hit The Mask (which also marked Cameron Diaz’s feature film debut), and also gave Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson his first film role in The Scorpion King.

“I was particularly fond of The Mask and The Scorpion King,” said Boccardi. “Chuck is a great writer and a great director and he has done action, horror and more comic-style with The Mask, and we needed that type of vision. He is extremely versatile. We are focusing on something that can appeal to a wide audience and we needed the right person to crack it, because it is a challenge. Chuck is that kind of talent.”

With The Mask which became a huge hit at the old New Line Cinema, climbing to $354M+ worldwide at the box office … in 1994, no less, Russell actually took what was to be a horror film and crafted it into a fun film that crossed genres and demographics.

“(Seven Sins) is about an ordinary guy who rises to power,” said Boccardi. “He is a man who fights injustice and evil.” The medallion the young Tiranno receives has a mysterious history, added Russell. It was originally owned by Julius Caesar and passed down through centuries. Once the boy takes hold of it, it starts him on a fated path to greatness.

Both Boccardi and Russell will also produce the film which Russell is adapting from both books. Other titles other than The Seven Sins are being considered.