Natchez Burning, a Tobey Maguire-produced thriller drama based on bestselling author Greg Iles’ latest novel, has landed at Amazon Studios. Co-written by Iles and David Hudgins (Parenthood), the project has received a two-script pickup. It hails from Maguire’s Material banner as well as Sony Pictures TV, where Hudgins is under an overall deal, which will co-produce with Amazon. Iles and Hudgins executive produce with Material’s Maguire and head of production Matthew Plouffe.
Natchez Burning, Iles’ first novel in five years, was a hot property when it came out last year and was pursued by multiple TV rights bidders before landing at Material and Sony. The book is the first volume in a trilogy, with the second, The Bone Tree, set for release later this month to solid advance reviews.
“In Natchez Burning, Greg Iles wrote a mesmerizing modern thriller inspired by a haunting piece of America’s past,” Maguire said. “The way this story resonates for David Hudgins is a rare occurrence. Lucky for me he is such a talented writer and so well suited to adapt this story. We have great partners in Sony Pictures Television, and I am thrilled to have found our home with the innovative and bold story tellers at Amazon Studios.”
The 800-page Natchez Burning, about race and murder in the Jim Crow South, features popular Iles character Penn Cage — the lawyer-turned-novelist who first appeared in the 1999 novel The Quiet Game.
Growing up in the rural Southern hamlet of Natchez, MS, where Iles also was raised, Penn Cage learned everything he knows about honor and duty from his father, Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community is accused of murdering Viola Turner, the beautiful nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the early 1960s. A fighter who has always stood for justice, Penn is determined to save his father, even though Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses to speak up in his own defense.
The quest for answers sends Penn deep into the past — into the heart of a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the Double Eagles, a vicious offshoot of the KKK headed by one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. With the aid of a local friend and reporter privy to some of Natchez’s oldest and deadliest secrets, Penn follows a bloody trail that stretches back 40 years, to one undeniable fact: no one — black or white, young or old, brave or not — is ever truly safe.
Natchez Burning was brought into Material by Plouffe and NY-based development executive Christopher Kopp. Like Iles, Hudgins also is from the South, and the two bonded immediately, taking on joint writing duty. Material’s newly hired TV executive DJ Goldberg worked closely with Hudgins to develop the pitch and will continue to shepherd the project for the company.
Maguire is repped by WME and Management 360. Hudgins is with WME. Iles is with UTA. The book agent is Dan Conaway at Writer’s House.