Studio reacquires film rights to book

Paramount Pictures has once again boarded the bigscreen adaptation of Erik Larson’s bestselling tome “The Devil in the White City,” a project previously coveted by producing partners Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner.

Par reacquired the film rights to the book last month after being approached by producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, whose shingle Double Feature Films has a new first-look deal with the studio.

Larson’s nonfiction book, set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, tells the intertwining stories of fair architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H.H. Holmes, who used a hotel he built near the fairgrounds to lure his victims.

Cruise/Wagner Prods. scooped up rights to “White City” in 2003 through the shingle’s deal with Par, but the option lapsed in 2004.

Cruise and Wagner departed the Paramount lot last year after the studio wouldn’t meet its terms to stay.

When the project was set up at Cruise/Wagner, Kathryn Bigelow (“K-19”) was attached to direct and produce. Insiders say it stalled over creative differences between Bigelow and Cruise/Wagner.

Shamberg and Sher’s upcoming slate includes “Reno 911!: Miami.” Past credits include “World Trade Center.”

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