EXCLUSIVE: Bill Murray, Josh Hutcherson and Linda Cardellini have boarded John McNaughton’s The King of Counterfeit, a fast-paced love story centered around two ambitious young counterfeiters and the crooked superstar lawyer who mentors them. The young couple gets rich after learning how to perfectly print counterfeit money, but when a murderous fellow con man feels threatened by their game, getting caught by the cops becomes the least of their worries.
Lotus Entertainment will launch international sales on the project at Cannes. Comic genius Murray remains an evergreen draw around the world, so this is likely to be near the top of buyers’ lists.
James Sclafani wrote the screenplay. McNaughton and Murray memorably worked together on Mad Dog and Glory, where Murray turned the tables on audience expectations by playing a vicious gangster, albeit one who moonlights as a stand-up comedian who begins an unexpected friendship with the shy cop (Robert De Niro) who saved his life. Uma Thurman starred in that one, too.
The King of Counterfeit will be produced by industry veterans Mike Medavoy and Robert Greenhut along with Murray. The film reteams Medavoy and Greenhut, who collaborated previously on the likes of classic pics Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters and Arthur.
“I’m thrilled to be back working with both Bobby Greenhut and Bill Murray, who I last worked with on Caddyshack, and am also delighted that Lotus are a part of the producing team,” said Medavoy. Exec producers include Lotus’ Bill Johnson and Jim Seibel along with Edward McGurn, Oriane Gay and Steven A. Jones. Bonnie Hlinomaz will serve as co-exec producer.
Murray most recently voiced Baloo the bear in Jon Favreau’s smash Rudyard Kipling adaptation The Jungle Book. He also has a cameo in Paul Feig’s upcoming reboot of Ghostbusters with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy and is believed to be attached to Wes Anderson’s untitled stop-motion picture about dogs with Bryan Cranston and Edward Norton.
Hutcherson is coming off finishing The Hunger Games franchise. He stars in Future Man, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s upcoming Hulu TV series about a janitor battling an intergalactic invasion, and has a trio of James Franco-directed projects in the pipeline: The Masterpiece; In Dubious Battle, about an activist caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s; and The Long Home, about a young contractor hired by the man who killed his father to build a honky tonk in Tennessee. He is repped by CAA and the Beddingfield Company.
Cardellini was one of the best things about Netflix potboiler Bloodline, as the sexy, vulnerable, well-intentioned Meg Rayburn. She next stars opposite Michael Keaton in The Founder, the story of McDonald’s mogul Ray Kroc. She is repped by ICM Partners and Mosaic.