EXCLUSIVE: In a preemptive outright screen rights purchase that sources peg at mid-seven figures plus performance bonuses, Don Winslow’s upcoming crime trilogy epic that starts with City On Fire has been taken off the table by Sony Pictures and Elizabeth Gabler’s 3000 Pictures.
Deadline tipped this one as a hot book project last week, and it didn’t take long to generate one of the biggest book deals of the year so far. Sony Pictures and Gabler’s 3000 Pictures (a partnership between Sony and HarperCollins) has acquired three complete novels that tell an epic crime saga. City On Fire, which follows the template of Homer’s The Iliad, will be published by William Morrow in September. The followup, City of Dreams, will be published a year later, and the third installment, City in Ashes, will be published September, 2023.
The Story Factory’s Shane Salerno will produce the films.
Gabler and her book exec Drew Reed were on this one early, and they were working on a major offer by last Friday that prevented a bidding war from getting going, this while the rest of the town was on holiday vacation. Marisa Paiva will oversee for Sony.
The trilogy focuses on two criminal empires — one Irish, the other Italian — that control all of Rhode Island and have led a peaceful lucrative existence until a modern-day Helen of Troy tears them apart and starts a brutal war. The protagonist, Danny Ryan, is forced to grow from a street soldier into a ruthlessly efficient leader to protect his friends, his family and the home he loves. Fighting the Mafia, the local cops, the feds, Danny will build a dynasty or die trying.
“The ancient Greeks gave us all the themes we still use in modern crime fiction – honor, courage, cowardice, loyalty, betrayal and tragedy,” Winslow said last week. “I wanted to see if I could tell that story in a modern context and still have it stand on its own.”
Winslow has set his Border Trilogy at FX; Satori is set up at Warner Bros with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way; The Force has James Mangold and Matt Damon attached at Disney, with a Scott Frank script; Winslow’s Neal Carey Series is set at MRC with Rian Johnson; and several of the novellas in his latest title, Broken, are in the process of landing. As will Boone Daniels and The Winter of Frankie Machine. Winslow is repped by The Story Factory and CAA.