After dropping out of the project back in May, when Barry Levinson was attached to direct, Johnny Depp re-entered negotiations to star in December, when Scott Cooper became attached to direct. Joel Edgerton was initially attached to play John Connolly last year, but he is no longer involved in the project.
Mark Mallouk wrote the original script, which was adapted from Black Mass: The True Story Of An Unholy Alliance Between The FBI And The Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neil, with Jez Butterworth providing a rewrite. The story follows the criminal empire of James 'Whitey' Bulger, who became an FBI informant, with the help of his childhood friend and FBI agent John Connolly, to rid his neighborhood of Italian mafia elements, which strengthened his Winter Hill Gang's grip on the community. Many believe he would not have even gotten that far without the help of Connolly and his brother William, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate.
The FBI eventually double-crossed Bulger after the mafia case was closed, causing the criminal to go into hiding for more than a decade, before he was eventually caught hiding out in California in 2011. John Connolly was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice, while Bulger remains locked up in a Massachusetts prison for second-degree murder. James 'Whitey' Bulger served as the inspiration for Jack Nicholson's Frank Costello character in The Departed, and Pete Postlethwaite's Fergus "Fergie" Colm in The Town.
Production is scheduled to begin in May, with Brian Oliver and Brian Thompson producing for Cross Creek Pictures, alongside Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski and John Lesher.