Relativity Media announced today that it has acquired rights to the script Silver or Lead, the epic story behind the manhunt for cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, one of the world's greatest outlaws. Relativity will produce the film with Atmosphere Entertainment MM. Enrique Urbizu, whose gritty crime thriller No Rest for the Wicked swept the Spanish Goya's last year with a record 14 wins, will direct from a screenplay by British writer Piers Ashworth (Nostradamus, Piers Ashworth), which he developed from an original draft by Michael Kane.
The film focuses on the personal war between Escobar and General Hugo Martinez, whose life rights were also acquired by Relativity. Relativity also acquired the life rights for Joe Toft, the former chief of the Bogota office of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who was involved in the pursuit, capture and death of Escobar. Source material for the film is provided by author Simon Strong's award-winning book "Whitewash: Pablo Escobar and the Cocaine Wars" which was also acquired by Relativity. The film's unique title comes from a famous Escobar phrase, "Plata o Plomo." He gave you one choice, you could take his Silver or you could take his Lead.
Silver or Lead - accept a bribe, or forever wear a target on your back. This is the choice that General Hugo Martinez faces when he refuses the world's most controversial and notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar, and his six million dollar 'request' for Martinez to call off his relentless pursuit. Based on true events, this thrilling, epic action drama tells the story of the ruthless, charismatic Pablo Escobar and the man who risked it all to try to bring him to justice.
Mark Canton (300, Immortals), Donald Kushner (Tron: Legacy, Monster) and Leigh Ann Burton will produce the film alongside Relativity's CEO Ryan Kavanaugh (Immortals) and President Tucker Tooley (The Fighter). Atmosphere's David Hopwood (Piranha 3D) is co-producer. Here's what producer Mark Canton had to say in a statement, comparing the story to The Untouchables.
"The story of Pablo Escobar has been one of Hollywood's hottest properties for many years. I've been interested in making an Escobar film since my days at Sony, but never had a project that approached the story from an angle that I felt worked. This one does, with an exciting screenplay whose structure is reminiscent of The Untouchables. I'm pleased that Donald, Leigh Ann and I will be producing it with Relativity."
Tucker Tooley also released his own statement about the project.
"Relativity is proud to attract such a dynamic team to help tell Pablo Escobar's life story. We have been fans of Enrique's award-winning work and Piers' powerful script and are thrilled to have them on board. This has been a long coveted project and we look forward to working with people who are as passionate about the story as Mark, Donald, Leigh Ann."
Director Enrique Urbizu also chimed in with a statement.
"Piers Ashworth has penned an extraordinary script that captures all the thrilling aspects of Pablo Escobar's life while championing a classic tale of the battle between two larger than life men who would stop at nothing to achieve their goals."
Director Urbizu is represented by Resolution; screenwriter Ashworth is represented by Resolution and the Casarotto Ramsey Agency, and both are also represented by attorney Lev Ginsberg.
Relativity's Jason Barhydt will oversee the project for the studio.