Ridley Scott has signed on to direct a big-screen version of Don Winslow’s ripped-from-reality drug saga The Cartel, a novel partly inspired by kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman—and the first time he escaped from prison.
The book, released in June, chronicles the cat-and-mouse conflict between DEA agent Art Keller and Mexican drug billionaire Adán Barrera, detailing the unconscionable, bloody swath of violence his trade cuts through Mexico, destroying rivals and innocents alike. Winslow has spent years researching the gang wars that have devastated that country, and his novel debuted just a month before the real El Chapo’s staggering escape from from prison by way of an underground tunnel.
The movie will be produced by Fox, which confirmed the news to EW, and Salinger documentary filmmaker Shane Salerno (who wrote Michael Bay’s Armageddon and 2000’s remake of Shaft) will pen the screenplay and co-produce with Scott. The deal went down last night after a fierce bidding war, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news.
Salerno previously shared screenwriting credit with Winslow on Oliver Stone’s 2012 adaptation of the author’s other drug-fueled crime tale, Savages, about a pair of young dealers who run afoul of a powerful cartel that has kidnapped their girlfriend.
The Cartel is a sequel to Winslow’s other best-seller about the drug war, 2006’s The Power of The Dog, an exploration of the the rise to power of the drug cartels starting in the 1970s. The new book focuses on the horrific past 10 years, the alleged collaboration between the Mexican government and organized crime, and fictionalizes El Chapo’s 2001 escape from prison — when he slipped out in a laundry cart (although some believe he was allowed to simply walk free by corrupt prison officials.)
In addition, the new novel has some other major fans — including Stephen King, who tweeted about The Cartel recently:
Contributing: Gina McIntyre