Universal Acquires Savages , Ditches In the Heights

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Variety reports that Universal Pictures has picked up one project and dropped another.

The studio has acquires domestic distribution rights to Oliver Stone’s Savages, based on the Don Winslow novel.

In the book, two friends from Laguna Beach share the same girlfriend and a thriving business growing and distributing the best-quality pot on the planet. When they resist being muscled by a Mexican drug cartel, the girl is kidnapped and the ransom is every cent they’ve made for the last five years. They agree to pay but hatch an alternate plan to get her back, get revenge, and then get lost.

Stone co-wrote the script with Shane Salerno. He is hoping to star shooting in June with offers out to Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch to play the dealers and to Benicio Del Toro to play a cartel enforcer.

Stone co-wrote the script with Shane Salerno. The helmer is now looking to lock down the cast to meet the June start date; offers are out to Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch to play the dealers as well as for Benicio Del Toro to play a cartel enforcer.

Universal, meanwhile, has pulled the plug on the adaptation of the musical In the Heights. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who composed and wrote the musical as well as starred in it, was set to star in and produce the feature.

“Heights” explored three days in New York City’s Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights and featured hip-hop, salsa, merengue and soul music. It was nominated for 13 Tonys, winning the award for best musical.

Kenny Ortega was set to direct and Quiara Alegria Hudes, the play’s original writer, was on board to pen the script.

The trade says that with a budget of $37 million, the studio was unable to attract top talent for roles in the film.