Production will begin in the spring. Ridley, who won the Academy Award for writing the adapted screenplay for “12 Years a Slave” and created “American Crime,” has been working on the script for a decade.
Imagine co-chairman Brian Grazer will produce the pic.
The riots were sparked by the acquittal of four LAPD officers tried for the near-fatal beating of black motorist Rodney King and fueled by racial tension. The events left more than 50 dead and 2,300 injured, along with an estimated $1 billion in property damage.
The film will tell the story through the eyes of several key figures involved in the uprising and the events that led to it.
Broad Green Pictures founders CEO Gabriel Hammond and Chief Creative Officer Daniel Hammond said in statement that they started the company two years ago to become involved in such projects.
“This is a seminal event in our country’s history, the reverberations of which are still far too relevant today,” the Hammonds said in a statement. “We were blown away by John’s amazing screenplay and we know that under his direction and the aegis of Imagine the film will be truly in incredible company.”
“We have barely seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of John Ridley’s talent,” said Grazer. “I am confident that he will capture the magnitude of the events that unfolded and the issues that led up to them. He will show the world why the riots cannot and should not be forgotten.”
Victor Moyers and Asher Goldstein will oversee the project for Broad Green Pictures, while Anna Culp and Alexandre Dauman will supervise for Imagine Entertainment.
In a 2013 interview, Ridley told Variety that he had been working on rewrites of the L.A. Riots script and was hopeful that “12 Years a Slave” and his Jimi Hendrix biopic “All Is by My Side” could generate enough success to push “Riots” toward production.
“It was a Black List script that I wrote on spec and sold in 2007 before the world changed financially,” Ridley said. “I feel like we’ve got to make this happen now. People often think that it was limited to Rodney King and Reginald Denny, but there are so many other interconnected stories.”
Two decades after the fact, Ridley remained amazed that Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and LAPD chief Darryl Gates had not talked for a year prior to the April 1992 riots.
“It was a systemic meltdown,” Ridley noted. “The city and how it functions is the primary character of the film.”
The deal was brokered by Brillstein Entertainment and Don and Matthew Walerstein on behalf of Ridley, and by CAA and Logan Claire at Ziffren Brittenham on behalf of Imagine Entertainment. Christopher Tricarico handled for Broad Green Pictures.