Paramount has prevailed in a seven figure deal to develop a movie out of The Corporation: An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld. The deal was sold based on a 100 page proposal for a book by TJ English. Benicio Del Toro is attached to play Jose Miguel Battle Sr. (“El Padrino”), the leader of “The Corporation” – also known as “The Godfather.” Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson will produce with The Picture Company’s Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman. They will produce with Jaydee Freixas and Tony Gonzalez, who controlled the rights. Paramount’s Liz Raposo championed this and Michael Hampton is the Appian Way exec who was all over this. It got pretty hot and heavy today in bidding, with multiple suitors in the mix. David Matthews, a writer on the HBO series Vinyl, will adapt the book.
Battle had an illustrious career on both sides of the law. He was Batista’s bag man, bringing him his cut from the gambling casinos when the Mafia ran Cuba. Battle escaped to the States where he and other Cubans were trained by the CIA to invade the country at the ill-fated Bay of Pigs. Having saved the lives of 28 of his men, The Godfather came out of that debacle as a certified hero to many Cuban-Americans. The core of the gang had been trained as a unit, and together formed “The Corporation.” They started out running the popular numbers racket, known as “bolita,” but soon moved on to money laundering and murder. The nonfiction book will be published in winter 2017 by William Morrow. It’s being called a Cuban version of The Godfather and American Gangster. Several other studios bid on the property. There was one from Sony, with Scott Rudin, Amy Pascal and Paul Greengrass, but they bowed out early this evening over price. Ratpac and Heyday were into it with Oscar Isaac attached to play the title character; Lionsgate and MGM teamed with Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell’s Safehouse Pictures and Antoine Fuqua; and Universal and producer Scott Stuber were also bidding. Paradigm brokered the book deal, and LBI Entertainment reps Del Toro, DiCaprio and Appian Way. This was a statement buy for Paramount in its relationship with Appian Way, which just moved its deal over there from Warner Bros. It is a priority for Brad Grey to get the prolific production company into big properties, and this has the potential to be just that. Del Toro is coming off a sizzling performance in Sicario, and this is an opportunity to play another badass character. It also gives The Picture Company a big film, as it preps the Liam Neeson-starrer The Commuter.