American Gangster Film Revived

Originally Published: March 14, 2005

According to Variety, Universal Pictures is ready to give American Gangster another chance with Hotel Rwanda writer/director Terry George.

In October of last year, weeks before production was set to begin, the studio pulled the plug on the period police drama. Antoine Fuqua was to direct Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro.

Universal stopped the production because of fears that the film was on course to cost more than $100 million.

The film’s producer Brian Grazer, and Uni vice chairman Scott Stuber will redevelop the film with George. The goal is to make it for around $50 million. George’s deal will be negotiated this week.

Since George directed Hotel Rwanda to critical acclaim, speculation has begun that that pic’s Oscar-nominated star Don Cheadle would be drafted to play the lead role of Frank Lucas, the mastermind of a scheme to smuggle heroin into the U.S. in the caskets of soldiers killed in Vietnam.

Del Toro had been set to play narcotics lawman Richie Roberts, who brought down the Harlem drug kingpin called Superfly and then drafted Lucas to help bring down the dirty cops and overseas conspirators who made it easy to import heroin into the U.S.

No casting will be done until Universal’s brass is confident the Steven Zaillian-scripted drama can be executed stylishly for a reduced price.

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