EXCLUSIVE: In an unusually vigorous auction for a true crime book published way back in 2011, wiip has won rights to People Who Eat Darkness, and will put together a limited series based on the book by Richard Lloyd Parry, Tokyo Editor of The Times Of London.
People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story Of A Young Woman Who Vanished From The Streets Of Tokyo – And The Evil That Swallowed Her Up was widely acclaimed when first published, a book that covers the investigation into the notorious murder of Lucie Blackman. She was a tall, blond 21 year old who gave up a British Airways stewardess job to become a bar hostess at a club in the Roppingi district. That job entailed lighting the cigarettes and listening to the frustrations of lonely Japanese businessmen. She stepped out in Tokyo one summer day in 2000 to meet one of her customers for a date, and went missing until her dismembered remains were found the following winter buried in a seaside cave. The book chronicled a desperate search that included Lucie’s father engaging British prime minister Tony Blair to call the Japanese prime minister to make the case a priority. A methodical investigation by Japanese police led to a subsequent arrest, trial and conviction of a man who was revealed to be a depraved serial predator, one who meticulously documented his penchant for knocking out women with chloroform and Rohypnol and raping them, a defendant whom the judge in the case called “unprecedented and extremely evil.” It also became clear this animal was perpetrating similar crimes for as many as three decades in plain sight of a police force that comes off as bumbling.
This was the second auction for the book, as Fox won the rights when the book was first published in a splashy six against seven figure deal. Mark Roybal, who’ll be exec producer with wiip CEO Paul Lee and the author, was the feature exec at 20th Century Fox who got the studio to buy the book the first time. When he left, the project languished — it is so sprawling that fitting it into a two hour movie format is difficult. Fox made an attempt to repurpose the tale into a limited series, with James Marsh once involved but finally, the studio let the rights lapse and didn’t exercise the seven figure purchase. Roybal, now at wiip with Lee to put together high end TV projects, went after it again. So did numerous other production companies and studios that recognized the global appeal in a sprawling saga that spans the UK and Japan and leans heavily into Japanese culture and law enforcement practices, and the anguish of a family desperate to find Lucie Blackman, with that family vilified by the Japanese press. Wiip made the deal with the author’s UK reps, Judy Daish and Howard Gooding.
Below, the author described his book in a promo: