EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has abandoned the development of the Brian Michael Bendis/Marc Andreyko project Ness (previously titled Torso), which Paul Greengrass was attached to direct in what was to be a possible feature franchise property. Well, we’re told no longer. So what happened?
Sources said that no one could agree on a script and the versions of the script were really not representative of the book which focuses on the 1930s Torso murder cases. The project was based on the graphic novel Torso and the last script was from Brian Helgeland, who earned Academy Award nominations for Mystic River and L.A. Confidential.
This is the second go-round for this project as the studio also tried to develop this property with David Fincher in 2008. But that fell apart when creative differences arose with studio exec Rob Moore.
Ness is a crime thriller that follows Treasury Department agent Eliot Ness’ life after he led the team of Prohibition agents known as The Untouchables and brought down Chicago crime boss Al Capone. The rights are expected to revert to the original authors of Torso.
The true story is about Ness’ relentless investigation and pursuit of a psychopathic serial killer who murdered and dismembered at least 12 people, cutting off their heads. It was also known as the Kingsbury Run murders in Ohio. It’s one heck of a story as Ness believed he knew who the madman was but never could prove it. Even after the cases ran cold — only two of the victims were positively identified — the alleged killer continued to taunt Ness for years afterward.
The property has gone through Hollywood’s development-hell mill for more than a decade. The graphic novel first landed in the hands of Todd McFarlane and set up Dimension with a script from Bendis and Andreyko. Then the project brought in Don Murphy and, subsequently, Bill Mechanic. Fincher, who had found great success both with Fight Club at Fox and with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at Paramount, was brought in. Then the project fell apart after Fincher and Moore (then head of marketing who was a rising star at the time) disagreed on the creative vision.
Fast-forward to 2017: A new incarnation arose with Bourne franchise director Greengrass and John Davis, Greg Goodman and John Fox producing from Davis Entertainment. We’re now told that Greengrass is off of this and “nothing is happening with it at all. It will not be a movie,” said one source with knowledge of the goings on.
WME reps Bendis and Andreyko. Greengrass is repped by CAA.