‘The Devil in the White City’ (2013)

Leonardo DiCaprio-Starring ‘The Devil in The White City’ Gets a Screenwriter – Graham Moore

Late last year, Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company, Appian Way (along with Double Features), picked up the rights to Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic And Madness At The Fair That Changed The World.” Larson’s non-fiction work is told in a more traditionally novelistic way, and it chronicles the story of one of America’s first serial killers, Dr. HH Holmes. Holmes was a charmer who used the Fair and a so-called “murder castle” to draw in his prey. Once in his home, he would use a number of terrifying contraptions to murder people, only to turn around and sell their skeletons for medical and scientific study. He’s believed to be responsible for at least twenty-seven murders, and as many as two hundred. Larson’s book also makes use of time period’s backdrop – the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The book revolves around two men – Holmes and Daniel Burnham (the “chief architect” of the fair).

DiCaprio is so passionate about the story that, not only did he buy the rights for the book, he also signed on for the complicated role of Holmes. But despite a story and star, the project was missing one key element – a screenwriter. Now, however, Warner Bros. has picked up the rights for the book from Appian Way and Double Features (who will produce the project) and hired a scribe for the project – rising star Graham Moore.

Moore is actually from Chicago and, as such, has a personal interest in the story. He told Deadline that he has been “obsessed with Devil in the White City for a decade. My high school was 50 yards away from where the Chicago World’s Fair was held, and I played soccer on a field near where Holmes murdered about 200 people. It was a truly horrible crime, but it’s a very Chicago story. Though I moved to LA, I think of myself as fundamentally Mid-Western, and in a weird way, this is a dark and twisted tribute to my hometown.”

This might be only the first of two Moore-scripted films that DiCaprio will star in, as Moore first caught the attention of Warner Bros. with his Alan Turing biopic script, “The Imitation Game,” which DiCaprio is rumored to potentially star in. The studio recently bought the spec script in an impressive seven-figure deal. Kate Erbland

2 Responses to ‘The Devil in the White City’ (2013)

  1. This sounds very interesting. Would love to see DiCaprio play a serial killer.

  2. dbmoviesblog says:

    Thanks for your comment, and that’s exactly what I thought. The story also is fascinating – brutal murders committed in the background of a major ‘merry’ international event going on. Apparently Dr Holmes (the serial killer) was a Saw-type guy who built a hotel full of torture rooms and doors leading to nowhere. Some say he hunted down more than 200 victims before he was finally caught.
    I am a bit sceptical, however, whether DiCaprio is really up to it, in terms of his ability to show ‘dual’ nature on screen. I think that will take him out of his comfort zone, since he so used to play ‘himself’ most of the time, for example DiCaprio’s ‘Inception’ and ‘Shutter Island’ characters’ personalities are very similar. This story looks more like Depp’s material to me.

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