Baku, August 11, AZERTAC
Martin Scorsese will direct Leonardo DiCaprio as prolific 19th-century serial killer Dr HH Holmes after studio Paramount won a huge Hollywood bidding war for the project, according to Deadline.
The long-gestating film – DiCaprio has been eyeing a film about the Chicago mass murderer since at least 2010 – will become the pair's sixth collaboration after Gangs Of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street. It will be based on Erik Larson's acclaimed 2003 non-fiction book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, which DiCaprio bought the rights to five years ago and has now been adapted by the screenwriter of Captain Phillips, Billy Ray. HH Holmes was a pharmacist and hotelier who is believed to have slaughtered anywhere from 27 to 200 people, mainly young single women who were lured to his World's Fair Hotel in Chicago through the killer's charm and guile. Larson's book reveals how he invited his victims into a "murder castle" containing a gas chamber, crematorium and dissecting table.
A trained doctor – he graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1884 – Holmes was fascinated with corpses and skeletons. He preyed on his employees, lovers and hotel guests, often gassing them in their soundproofed rooms and transporting them by secret chute to the basement, where he had two giant furnaces, several pits of acid and even a stretching rack. Holmes would often dissect his victims and sell the remains for medical research, using the contacts he had made during his period of study.
Deadline reports Paramount beat competition from Twentieth Century Fox and Universal to secure the project, which is expected to be DiCaprio and Scorsese's next film together. Ray's script, which was one of many drafts by different writers, successfully reimagined the film as an interaction between Holmes and his business associate, the producer and architect of the 1893 World's Fair.
DiCaprio will next be seen in Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant, while Scorsese's next film in cinemas will be Silence, his drama about Jesuit priests who face violent persecution when they travel to Japan to preach the gospel.