Mann will direct pic about weapons trafficker

Universal Pictures and Michael Mann’s Forward Pass has optioned “Arms and the Man,” a Peter Landesman-penned New York Times Magazine feature about shadowy arms dealer Victor Bout.

Landesman will write the screenplay and Mann is attached to direct the film.

The Aug. 17 article was an account of Landesman’s interview with Bout, who is widely reported to be the world’s largest arms trafficker. The great achievement of the interview that took place in Moscow was the sleuthing that made it happen. Bout has been incredibly secretive and spent most of the article deflecting assertions about how prolific a mover of weapons he is. Landesman’s research, and the dangerous places he went to unearth information will help inform a drama he will begin writing immediately.

The film will be a “Heart of Darkness” hunt into the depths of global arms trafficking. An American agent pursues a missing orb of plutonium that was swiped during a raid in the Ukraine. The trail spans from the Middle East to Africa and the Soviet Union, and Landesman and Mann will introduce a love story element as the agent navigates between the old Soviet world and a new brand of lawlessness and arms brokering in the country.

Landesman, whose deal was made by CAA and manager Hayley Sumner, is completing an original script for Oliver Stone and Intermedia. “Arms and the Man,” recently made a deal with MGM for his article “Art Con of the Century,” with Michael Douglas poised to star as a charming art forger.

“The film has the geography of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, places where Michael has wanted to shoot for a long time,” Landesman said. “A lot of films are being made in Afghanistan, but this will be about parts of the world even more dangerous, where weapons are made and smuggled, everything from AK rifles to radiological weapons. The investigation that put me in position to write this script is real and not imagined.”

Mann is currently shooting the Tom Cruise starrer “Collateral” for DreamWorks.

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