It could be awhile before production begins, a screenwriter hasn’t even been selected, but Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way, and his partner Jennifer Killoran, along with Double Features partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, have secured the screen rights to Erik Larson’s 2003 bestseller, The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic, And Madness At The Fair That Changed America.
According to Slashfilm, DiCaprio had been trying to secure the rights for some time in the hopes of playing the chilling serial killer H.H. Holmes. Erik Larson’s non-fiction crime-thriller is written in almost novelistic form. It utilizes extensive research and historical facts to juxtapose architect Daniel Burnham’s planning and staging of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago with the attack of Dr. H.H. Holmes, America’s first documented serial killer, believed to be responsible for over 200 murders. Dr. Holmes used the World’s Fair to lure women to their death at his elaborately constructed “Murder Castle.”
The story touches on the economic decline of the time, and how Daniel Burnham struggled through countless hardships and set-backs to meet his deadline, including the death of his partner and building the world’s first Ferris Wheel, an attraction intended to rival France’s Eiffel Tower.
Dr. H.H. Holmes, a pharmacist, built an elaborate hotel to accommodate travelers to the Fair. The hotel had secret rooms and passageways, hidden chutes to easily dispose of bodies, a gas chamber and even a crematorium to destroy all evidence. Dr. Holmes was in the business of selling body parts for medical and scientific study. He certainly provides a challenging, Oscar-caliber, complex character for Leonardo DiCaprio to bring to life for a world-wide audience.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars next in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, premiering November 15, 2013.