EXCLUSIVE: Much-in-demand Brit director Yann Demange is set to direct a Rick Wershe Jr.-inspired project for Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8. The untitled feature is inspired by the true story of teenager Wershe, who became an undercover informant for the police during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.
Wershe’s story had attracted a host of competing projects around town. Earlier this year, Studio 8 acquired a script by Logan and Noah Miller, with John Lesher producing alongside his LBI Entertainment partners Rick Yorn and Julie Yorn. Protozoa’s Scott Franklin and Darren Aronofsky had also previously acquired a script, this time by Andy Weiss, about the same subject, with Wershe serving as a consultant.
Studio 8 is now in final talks to acquire the Weiss script, with Franklin and Aronofsky joining Lesher, and the Yorns to produce. Wershe will continue to consult on the newly merged project. A production start date has not been announced, but is expected to be early 2016.
Demange is the man with the Midas tough right now and this will most likely be his next project. His feature debut ’71, with a star-making turn from Jack O’Connell as a British soldier stranded overnight in a hostile Belfast neighborhood during the height of the Troubles, displayed the kind of humanity and assuredness that only the very greatest of filmmakers have. Demange’s Top Boy, a four part miniseries about a London drug dealer described by some critics as Britain’s answer to HBO cult fave The Wire, won the Royal Television Society’s award for best TV serial.
Demange has a couple of other buzzy projects in development, including an untitled dramatic thriller that New Regency acquired for the helmer with Plan B trio of Dede Gardner, Brad Pitt and Jeremy Kleiner producing along with Angus Lamont and Molly Smith. Demange is also developing Sony’s increasingly high profile cop project The Seven Five, based on the Tiller Russell-directed and Eli Holzman-produced documentary about one of the most corrupt police forces in 1980s New York. John Lesher- again- and Megan Ellison are on-board to produce that feature with Holzman.
Demange is repped by CAA, Independent Talent Group and Carlos Goodman of Bloom Hergott. Robinov’s Studio 8 has set out to be a filmmaker-driven company focused on building longstanding relationships to develop, produce and acquire both potential tentpoles and prestige pictures. The company is funded in partnership with the Chinese investment management firm Fosun Group, and with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which will distribute up to six films worldwide annually. Studio 8 has secured $1 billion in financing. The company’s list of initial film projects includes Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which opens November 11, and the recently unveiled The Soultrean.