Johnny Depp has been attached to Cross Creek's crime thriller Black Mass as Boston's most notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger, to be co-produced and co-financed with Exclusive Media, and directed by Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson (Rain Man), it was announced today by Cross Creek Pictures President Brian Oliver and Senior Vice President Tyler Thompson and Exclusive Media's Co-Chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East.
Black Mass will be released by Universal Pictures in the US through Cross Creek's distribution deal with the studio. The film is scheduled for a May 2013 start date.
The film will be produced by Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson, Nigel Sinclair, Tobin Armbrust, John Lesher, and Christi Dembrowski. Cross Creek Pictures Sr. VP of Production Adam Kassan, will oversee production for the company. Alex Walton, Exclusive Media's President of International Sales and Distribution, will introduce Black Mass to overseas buyers at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin.
Cross Creek recently purchased the New York Times bestselling book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, written by former Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O'Neill and published in 2001 by Harper Collins. O'Neill is a Pulitzer, Hancock and Loeb prizes winner and Lehr, a Pulitzer finalist, has also won the Hancock and Loeb awards. Writer Mark Mallouk wrote a completely new screenplay adaptation of the book, following the June 2011 capture of Bulger, who had been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for more than a decade. Here's what producer Brian Oliver had to say about the project.
"I could not be more thrilled to have the biggest star in the world and Academy Award winning director Barry Levinson to finally bring this incredible story to the big screen. We have been working on this project since we originally optioned the book in 2005. Black Mass expertly details the twists and turns of this highly complex story, painting a vivid portrait of Boston's underbelly and its corrupt political machine, as well as exposing the worst scandal in FBI history. It's also an examination of loyalty to family, Irish heritage, and South Boston."
Exclusive Media's Nigel Sinclair and Guy East also released a statement regarding the project.
"We are thrilled by the opportunity to bring Mark Mallouk's terrific screenplay to the screen with perhaps this generation's biggest and best actor and a director whose work makes him one of America's iconic filmmakers. Occasionally a film project comes along that is truly exceptional - from the terrific subject matter to the chance to collaborate again with our long time friends and partners at Cross Creek, and to have the opportunity work with the unique and inimitable Johnny Depp. We are truly delighted to be involved in Black Mass."
Black Mass tells the true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. However, after the Feds closed in on their targets, they double crossed Bulger and ultimately prosecuted him, along with his partner in crime and the original FBI agent working with him.
The deal was negotiated by Tracey Jacobs, Jake Bloom and Micheal Schenkman for Depp and Jeremy Zimmer and Barry Hirsch for Levinson as well as Eric Greenfeld on behalf of Cross Creek and Exclusive Media.