Christian Slater will star in the David L. Wolper/Hexagon production of “Murder in the First,” which will film in San Francisco and Alcatraz Island in late June. Based on a true incident, Slater will star as a young attorney who sued the state on behalf of an Alcatraz inmate who killed a fellow prisoner while serving a minor prison term.

“It’s one of the most unusual legal cases and a project we have wanted to do for a long time,” said co-producer Mark Wolper. “The material has always attracted very good actors and while it’s come close to getting a green light in the past, it’s always been undone by availabilities.”

Dan Gordon’s screenplay dates back to the mid-1980s. Additional drafts have been written by Darryl Ponicsan and Michael Schiffer, as well as Gordon. Tom Cruise and Charlie Sheen, at different times, had been attached to star. Wolper said that while several top directors had expressed interest, no one was ever officially attached to the project.

The recent viability of “Murder” is credited to several factors. Warner Bros.’ exex had pursued director Marc Rocco (“Where the Day Takes You”) to find an existing project that he might make for the studio. Gordon’s script, Rocco said, “in addition to being extremely potent material, seemed like the most un-studio type of subject matter I could ever hope to be allowed to make. I’m being given tremendous lattitude — from using my indie crew, to locations, to casting.”

Hexagon’s financial involvement also contributed significantly to making the project appealing to the studio. Carolco with handle foreign sales on the film at the upcoming Cannes festival.

In addition to Slater, other actors in discussion for the key roles include Kevin Bacon and Tim Roth.

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