Relativity Media has acquired the spec script “Silver or Lead,” the story of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, as well as a number of life rights and a book associated with the tale.
Relativity will produce the pic with Mark Canton’s Atmosphere Entertainment MM. Spanish helmer Enrique Urbizu is set to direct from a screenplay by “Nostradamus” scribe Piers Ashworth. Michael Kane wrote the original draft.
Pic centers on the war between Escobar and General Hugo Martinez, whose life rights Relativity also acquired. Simon Strong’s tome “Whitewash: Pablo Escobar and the Cocaine Wars” — which Relativity also acquired — provided source material for the film.
Pic’s title comes from a phrase often used by Escobar, “Plato o Plomo,” according to Relativity. The notorious crime lord gave victims a choice of accepting his money or death.
In the film, Martinez gets this choice when he refuses Escobar’s $6 million bribe to call off his manhunt. Relativity’s action drama will tell the story of Martinez’s efforts to bring Escobar to justice.
Canton, Donald Kushner and Leigh Ann Burton will produce along with Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and prexy Tucker Tooley. Atmosphere’s David Hopwood will co-produce.
“The story of Pablo Escobar has been one of Hollywood’s hottest properties for many years,” Canton, a former Sony exec, said in a statement. “I’ve been interested in making an Escobar film since my days at Sony, but never had a project that approached the story from an angle that I felt worked. This one does, with an exciting screenplay whose structure is reminiscent of ‘The Untouchables.”’
Relativity also acquired the life rights for Joe Toft, the former chief of the Bogota office of the Drug Enforcement Agency who was involved in the pursuit of Escobar, and who eventually turned himself in to authorities in 1991.
Resolution reps Urbizu and Ashworth, the latter of whom is also repped by the Casarotto Ramsey Agency. Attorney Lev Ginsberg reps both filmmakers.
Relativity’s Jason Barhydt will oversee the project for Relativity.