EXCLUSIVE: Lionstate and Appian Way have acquired movie rights to Grant, the new bestselling Ron Chernow biography of Ulysses S. Grant. David James Kelly has been set to adapt. Chernow is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Washington: A Life, whose Alexander Hamilton was the inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony winning musical Hamilton. Pic will be produced by Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson, with Chernow the exec producer.
The book was published two weeks ago by Penguin Press to much acclaim, telling the story of one of the most complicated military leaders-turned politicians in American history. Down on his luck with failing businesses and a resignation from the army amid accusations of drunkenness, Grant enjoyed a rousing second act as Abraham Lincoln’s most trusted general in the Civil War. He won the battle of Shiloh and the Vicksburg campaign, and defeated the legendary Southern Confederate general Robert E. Lee. His military genius propelled him to two terms in the White House. He was a champion for black Americans and worked to crush the Ku Klux Klan, even as there were scandals involving administration’s leaders. Grant had EKG-like highs and lows even after his presidency, seeing his fortune swindled on Wall Street but resuscitating himself working with Mark Twain on his critically acclaimed memoirs.
Appian Way is in post with Lionsgate on Robin Hood, the Otto Bathurst-directed origin story that stars Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx, with Lionsgate releasing next fall. Appian Way has been placing increased focused on historical films: Paramount in August won a seven-figure auction for the rights to Walter Isaacson’s book Leonardo da Vinci, which will be crafted as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the painter/scientist. Last month, Paramount set Roosevelt, a drama about Teddy Roosevelt, as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio with Martin Scorsese directing. Scott Bloom is scripting the drama.
Chernow is repped by CAA in conjunction with the Melanie Jackson Agency LLC. Appian Way is repped by LBI Entertainment and Kelly is WME and LBI Entertainment.