Universal just can’t seem to get things right with their crime flick American Gangster, a film that has seen several incarnations over the years. The first mention of the flick was back in May of 2004 when Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro were attached to star with Antoine Fuqua directing, it was also called Tru Blu way back then. Well, it got axed by former Universal chair Stacey Snider who believed the budget could soar over $100 million and didn’t want to go any further.
So, bye-bye Benicio and Antoine. But, that wasn’t the end of things. Hotel Rwanda helmer Terry George was brought on to pen a downsized version of the story, but the producers of the flick couldn’t let go of Steve Zaillian’s original idea and neither could the new helmer Ridley Scott nor could Del Toro’s replacement Russell Crowe.
So, in a seven-figure deal, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have rehired Steve Zaillian to rewrite American Gangster, the studio has also committed to a late July start date for the film which will shoot mostly in New York, with a brief stopover in Thailand.
The film is based on a New York Magazine article by Mark Jacobson, which depicted the true story of Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas (Washington), who smuggled heroin in the caskets of soldiers killed in Vietnam. He was eventually caught by New York detective Richie Roberts (Crowe), who got Lucas to turn his talents toward catching the crooked cops and drug dealers who profited from his scheme.