Even though Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps wasn’t the commercial, critical or cultural hit that Hollywood hoped for, studios are no less interested in the films of Oliver Stone. The auteur just landed a distribution deal for his next project — a gritty thriller called Savages, based on Don Winslow’s novel of the same name. Variety reports that Universal Pictures beat out two unnamed studios for the property.
The story follows two marijuana kingpins living in Laguna Beach who are forced to work for a Mexican cartel after their free-spirited girlfriend O is kidnapped. The source claims that, though an official greenlight has not been given, Universal will give the thumbs up and distribute if Stone can cast up quickly. Offers are out to Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch to play the botanist-turned-dope-peddler and solider-turned-drug-dealer, respectively, while the female role O is more up in the air. Jennifer Lawrence was hotly pursuing the part until she opted out for Gary Ross’ Hunger Games; Olivia Wilde, Blake Lively and Teresa Palmer are said to be in the running now. Benicio del Toro is also in negotiations to play an Mexican cartel enforcer who does battle with the duo.
Stone, who co-wrote the picture with Shane Salerno and will produce with Moritz Borman, is shooting for a June start date. Personally I think this project sounds nothing short of awesome and with a hot young cast it could be a big hit. If I were running Universal, I’d have given the greenlight yesterday.