Fred Roos is producing “Street of Dreams,” the true story of Japanese-American gangster Montana Joe. The $25 million-$30 million pic is fully financed by Japan’s Kinema Motion Pictures, but — in a kind of reverse runaway production scenario — it will be shot entirely in Los Angeles.
Roger Towne (“The Natural,” “The Recruit”), who has researched the hoodlum for several years, wrote the screenplay.
“Montana Joe is a well-known pop culture icon in Japan,” Towne said.
The project has been planned since 2002, he said, but the spreading craze for poker — Montana Joe was a highly skilled player — “has given this highly romantic and fast-actioned story a special currency.”
Pic will cover the isolation and oppression of Japanese immigrant society in the California valley farm communities during the Depression; the internment of Japanese Americans during the 1940s and their role in the U.S. military during WWII; and Japanese gambling culture.
Roos will produce with Kinema’s Hyeyoung Choi and Junichi Mimura.
Having produced Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather: Part II” and “The Godfather: Part III,” Roos is no stranger to gangster pics. More recently, he exec produced Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” as well as her upcoming “Marie-Antoinette” for Sony.
Kinema, which has offices in Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo and now L.A., has produced films including “Burmese Heart.” “Street of Dreams” will be the shingle’s first attempt at making an American film for the U.S. market.
Kinema prexy Mimura has produced and directed more than 50 features and television programs, including “Glacial Fox” for 20th Century Fox.