Back in September, Sony Pictures set up an Untitled Evel Knievel Biopic with Channing Tatum attached to star and Darren Aronofsky eyed to direct. The project fell apart after Darren Aronofsky backed away to direct an untitled indie movie which has Jennifer Lawrence attached to star. Today, Deadline reports that Paramount is moving forward with an adaptation of Sheldon Saltman's book Evel Knievel on Tour, with William Monahan (The Departed) signing on to write the adapted screenplay. The studio hopes to reunite the screenwriter with director Martin Scorsese, but nothing is set in stone at this point.
The 1977 book Evel Knievel on Tour will be used as a resource for this biopic, but it isn't known exactly how faithful this adaptation will be. The book covers Evel Knievel's infamous 1974 attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in a steam-powered rocket known as the Skycycle X-2, which failed. Author Sheldon Saltman was one of the promoters of that event, and he wrote the book with Evel Knievel's permission, although it painted a rather unflattering portrait of the daredevil, alleging that he abused his wife and kids and used drugs.
Shortly after the book's release, Evel Knievel paid Sheldon Saltman a visit on the 20th Century Fox lot, where the author worked as a producer, assaulting him with a baseball bat. The author blocked several of these blows with his arm, which was shattered. It took multiple surgeries and permanent metal plates to give the author the use of his arm once again. Evel Knievel plead guilty to the assault, serving six months in jail and three years on probation, resulting in the loss of most of his endorsements. Sheldon Saltman was awarded $12.7 million in damages in a civil lawsuit, but the author never received a dime from the daredevil, or his estate after he died in 2007.
It isn't known if any of this history between the author and daredevil will be included in the biopic, but this story was told in the documentary Being Evel, which hit theaters in August and was produced by Johnny Knoxville. Terence Winter, who wrote the screenplay for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, is producing with Rachel Winter (Dallas Buyers Club) and LBI Entertainment. Paramount's deal for this adaptation is still in very early stages, so it may be quite some time until Martin Scorsese makes an official decision.
Martin Scorsese is currently in post-production on Silence, which is slated to hit theaters sometime next year, starring Andrew Garfield, Ken Watanabe and Liam Neeson. William Monahan's other writing credits include Kingdom Of Heaven, Body of Lies, Edge of Darkness, London Boulevard, which he also directed, and The Gambler. What do you think about Martin Scorsese directing a biopic on Evel Knievel?