Erik Larson‘s Edgar Award-winning nonfiction book, The Devil in the White City, is set in 1893 Chicago and delves into the lives of two men who helped change the course of history: Daniel H. Burnham, the chief architect of the 1893 World’s Fair, and Dr. Henry H. Holmes, regarded as America’s first serial killer. Larson’s intense true crime work is packed with gripping, gory details, and fans are clamoring to see it play out on the big screen. Although no release date has been set, an adaptation of the book is already in the works! From casting notes to who will be sitting in the director’s chair, here’s everything you need to know about The Devil in the White City movie.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio will star as Holmes.
DiCaprio, who won an Academy Award in 2016 for his performance in the big-screen adaptation of The Revenant, will star as the infamous Holmes, a serial killer from the late 1800s who captured and killed victims in a “Murder Castle” of his own design. Dubbed “The World’s Fair Hotel” and marketed as a lodging for Fair tourists, Holmes’s lair reportedly had multiple windowless rooms, stairways leading nowhere, doorways that opened to brick walls, two furnaces, and chutes via which he could send bodies directly to an incinerator. Said to be responsible for the deaths of up to 200 people, Holmes’s murders are largely set against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair.
2. Martin Scorsese will direct.
The film reunites DiCaprio with Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese. The pair have collaborated on five previous films, including 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street. In December 2016, while promoting the documentary Silence, Scorsese told The Toronto Sun:
“Right now, there is a script [for The Devil in the White City] being worked on … One of the things that I had to stop for the past six months… was my meetings on that script. They want me to start again in January and see if we can find a way because it’s an extraordinary story.”
3. The adaptation has been in the works for years.
Multiple studios have wanted to make The Devil in the White City movie happen since the book’s release in 2003. At one point, Warner Bros. owned the rights, and Tom Cruise was set to star and produce the adaptation. After acquiring the rights from Warner, though, Paramount Studios reportedly let the rights lapse, and DiCaprio purchased the rights himself in 2010. Over the last seven years, DiCaprio has been building a team and working to bring this story to the big screen. Although no release date has been set, we can only hope that it’ll be one of the major big-screen releases of 2018!
4. The film will also tell the story of the World’s Fair.
Like the book, the film will likely be split between two stories happening concurrently in and around the World’s Fair. With DiCaprio set to star as Holmes, we can be confident that his storyline will be a huge focus. However, we hope the film also spends time on Burnham and the construction of the 1893 Fair.
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