With several studios vying for the property, Broad Green Pictures has won the rights to the book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” with Michael B. Jordan attached to star and Destin Cretton on board to direct.
Gil Netter will produce the adaptation of the book, which is based on the true story of Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned and women and children.
One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy and political machination that transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Several major studios, including Paramount and Universal, put bids in for the book before Broad Green landed the rights. Sources noted it was their relentless passion for the projects that clinched the deal. The book was released last year, but rights to it weren’t available until Jordan and Cretton became attached.
“We are privileged to bring Bryan’s memoir to the world as a major motion picture,” said Gabriel and Daniel Hammond, Broad Green Pictures CEO and chief creative officer. “Destin is such a collaborative, thoughtful and talented filmmaker, he is going to inspire the world with this powerful true story. He’s part of an amazing team alongside Gil, Michael and Andrew, and together they will make a historic film.”
Cretton and Andrew Lanham are adapting the book, which has been named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, the Washington Post and Time magazine and recently received the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction from the American Library Association.
Arthur Spector, Jordan and Stevenson will exec produce.
“Bryan’s story hit me harder than anything I’ve read in a long time,” said Cretton. “I’m humbled and honored to have the opportunity to bring his story to the screen. With Michael B., Gil, Andrew and the Broad Green team on board, I’m confident we’re going to make something very special.”
Victor Moyers and Asher Goldstein are overseeing the project at Broad Green Pictures.
The deal was brokered on behalf of the author by Joseph Veltre at the Gersh Agency, WME Global handled for the producers, writers and director, while exec VP of business affairs Christopher Tricarico handled for Broad Green.
Besides Jordan’s and Cretton’s attachment, sources say stars like Will Smith and Denzel Washington have shown interest in other roles in the adaptation, giving studios even more incentive to aggressively pursue it.
Jordan’s star is already on the rise with lead roles in two upcoming tentpoles, Fox’s “Fantastic Four” and the “Rocky” sequel “Creed,” but it was his work in “Fruitvale Station” that earned him auds and execs’ attention.
Cretton gained fame from his drama “Short Term 12,” and many studios have shown interest in the director. He has been developing “Glass Castle” for Lionsgate but has been looking for other opportunities after Jennifer Lawrence dropped out of the project.
Netter has an eye for taking popular book properties and turning them into films like “The Blind Side” and “Life of Pi.” He is currently filming the adaptation of the New York Times bestseller “The Shack” for Lionsgate and has Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees,” starring Matthew McConaughey, bowing this fall.
Jordan is represented by WME, MGMT and Bloom Hergott; Cretton by WME and Stone Meyer; and Netter by WME and Bloom Hergott.