EXCLUSIVE: In a stunning end to the biggest and wildest book rights auction in memory, Imperative Entertainment has paid $5 million and won the rights to make a movie out of David Grann’s book Killers Of The Flower Moon: An American Crime And The Birth Of The FBI, which Doubleday is publishing next spring.
Imperative partners Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas will be producing. Friedkin is a Houston-based entrepreneur who made his fortune through automotive and other ventures and he fully funds Imperative.
“The Lost City Of Z is the only book that I’ve ever read cover to cover, then immediately picked up and read again,” Friedkin told Deadline. “With Killers Of The Flower Moon, David has once again crafted a unique and compelling story and I’m honored that he has allowed us to bring it to life on screen.”
This is a real upset. They won this deal over a rival bid that teamed Paramount with Bad Robot’s JJ Abrams and Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin (coming off Spotlight and The Revenant), with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star and develop it (he is keen on big oil and Native American issues). I heard that while Amy Pascal and George Clooney were bidding for Sony and New Regency with Brad Pitt’s Plan B, Clooney and Pitt were pooling resources. Then there was Warner Bros and RatPac. Universal had dropped off as the bidding began to skyrocket. Scott Stuber had linked up with Netflix, and there were indie financiers in the mix, with AG Capital’s Alex Garcia and PalmStar Media’s Kevin Frakes mentioned as players.
I had heard money was a priority for Grann, who wrote Lost City Of Z and is an accomplished writer for The New Yorker. This took all of the participants by surprised and they were just informed about half an hour ago. There will of course be bruised feelings, not the least of which will be caused by the fact that several big CAA stars were in the middle of rival bids, and CAA brokered the book deal. But those bids were about half of what Imperative put on the table, to put itself squarely in the bid game. It’s always possible that some of these elements can align with the project if they love it that much.