EXCLUSIVE: Hotel Mumbai director Anthony Maras is set to write and direct Peachtree, a ’70s true-crime saga about the spectacular rise and fall of Atlanta porn king Mike Thevis. Maras is reunited on the project with Hotel Mumbai producer and principal equity financiers Jomon Thomas and S’YA Concept.
Thevis was born into a poor Greek immigrant family, and he would go on to build the largest pornography network in America. A man of stark contradictions, Thevis by the 1970s commandeered a sprawling empire of smut from his base in the puritanical Deep South, while simultaneously running a plethora of legitimate businesses with a nearly all-female executive team. Craving respectability, he sunk millions into the arts, music, movies and charities but ultimately was bought down in a noxious web of murder, blackmail, arson and extortion.
The picture has been a passion project of Maras’ for years, but the filmmaker put Peachtree on hold to co-write and direct Hotel Mumbai, another heavily researched true story, which released to international acclaim this year. Maris is also the son of Greek migrants, and he first heard about Thevis from family members who came from the same region of Greece as the Thevis clan.
“The more I learnt about this man and his world, the more obsessed I became,” Maras said. “Over the years my team and I unearthed thousands of pages of documents and dozens of eyewitness testimonies. We lodged FOI requests for government case files. We sifted through endless boxes of archives in Atlanta — it was just a treasure trove of riches for a storyteller.”
Thomas and S’YA Concept signed on to fully fund development based on an expansive research dossier and treatment written by Maras.
“After seeing Anthony’s contribution to Hotel Mumbai, backing this project was a no-brainer,” Thomas said. “As with Mumbai, he’s put together a monumental research dossier, has a deep cultural understanding of the protagonist and his world and an instinctual grasp for these types of true stories.”
Maras and Thomas will produce and Natalya Pavchinskaya will be executive producer under the S’YA Concept banner. Thomas separately is teamed with Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk in producing Oscar nominee Dev Patel’s directorial debut Monkey Man, which will begin production early next year.
Anthony Maras is repped by Verve and Hirsch Wallerstein.