Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese Reunite for ‘Devil in the White City’

Wolf of Wall Street DiCaprio Scorsese
Courtesy of Paramount

Leonardo DiCaprio will star in the long-in-development “The Devil in the White City” with Martin Scorsese directing for Paramount, sources confirm.

The project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, reunites DiCaprio with Scorsese two years after “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Paramount won an auction to buy the movie rights to Erik Larson’s book “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.” The studio has previously owned the rights twice.

Billy Ray, whose credits include “Captain Phillips” and “The Hunger Games,” will write the script. Producers are DiCaprio and his Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson along with Stacey Sher, Scorsese, Rick Yorn and Emma Koskoff.

DiCaprio first joined the project in 2010.

DiCaprio will play H.H. Holmes, who murdered between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women. Set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, “The Devil in the White City” tells the intertwining stories of fair architect Daniel H. Burnham and Holmes, who used a hotel he built near the fairgrounds to lure his victims.

“The Devil in the White City” was first put in development in Hollywood by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner through their Cruise/Wagner banner via the shingle’s deal with Par, but the option lapsed in 2004. Paramount reacquired the film rights in 2007 and set it up with producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, whose shingle Double Feature Films had a first-look deal with the studio at that point.

Besides “The Wolf of Wall Street,” DiCaprio and Scorsese have made “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,”  “The Departed” and “Shutter Island” together.

DiCaprio is repped by LBI, which also reps Scorsese. WME also reps Scorsese CAA and attorney Peter Nichols rep Ray. Larson is repped by APA and David Black Literary Agency.

Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.

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  1. KDHT says:

    When is this happening????? One movie I’m so wanting to see!!

  2. Jerry K says:

    Where the real “Murder Castle” was. It’s now a post office, but the postal workers say they see strange things and think it’s haunted. This guy was nuts.

  3. sylvia a noller says:


  4. Whatistrue02 says:

    Most of real America is already boycotting he move.

  5. Bene' says:

    Would rather see Johnny Depp portray Holmes and Leonardo cast as Burnham.

  6. Deborah says:

    Is the movie on netfilx or Hulu? Does anyone know??

  7. Nan says:

    Looking forward to this movie as I read the book awhile back and was captivated by it. With Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio working together…how can it miss? :-)

  8. Henny ten Pas says:

    I sincerely hope this movie will not just be another Hollywood murder mystery like so many others. I do hope they will respect one of the best books I have ever read, with a great dual storyline of historical importance since the choices that were made during 1893 Chicago World’s Fair still have effect today. Although the murder part was written really good, the architectural and scientifically phenomena are rarely portrayed in a movie, and this would be a unique opportunity. Who do I have to address to get a serious reaction to my plea? Anybody?

  9. Rozelle Espeland says:

    Glad to know this movie is finally getting made..
    I read the book years ago…..
    DiCaprio can play evil very well.
    Django Unchained showcased this side of him

  10. No Name says:

    I’ve been waiting a long time for a movie about Holmes. This guy was a true nut case & would make for one heck of a horror flick, but do they really have to use light bulb head DiCaprio! Sorry but this guy is not that great!

  11. Debbie says:

    I am reading the book now. It pairs the wonder of a world fair with the horror of a serial killer; the juxtaposition is riveting. Can’t wait to see Leo bite into the role.

  12. trish3185 says:

    I read the book “Devil in the White City” and loved it. I have been waiting patiently for the movie to be made. I also saw a documentary by Holmes great-great grandson and his theory that Holmes was Jack the Ripper. Fascinating!

  13. Kitty Champagne says:

    oh wow! I just watched a show about this HH Holmes character and wow, I am astonished at the possibility that he was Jack The Ripper. I did a report on that in High School and found it a fascinating topic. I know that sounds crazy, but I feel like if we can discover what makes these bastards tick than maybe we can stop the madness before it begins.

  14. Dalton says:

    This is great news that a writer has finally “cracked” the problem presented by this story – the fact that Burnham and Holmes never interacted with each other whatsoever. The book’s approach is great and I do hope they are able to give enough time to the Burnham side of the story in the film while staying reasonably true to historical facts. There’s a failed script floating around written by Graham Moore. He tried to solve the problem by creating a fictional woman who works as an assistant to Burnham (whose story is reduced simply to the effort of getting the Ferris wheel built) but meets and is seduced by Holmes. It ends with an opening day chase through a burning White City, with Holmes dead and Burnham put in jail. Outrageously awful.

    Can this story by told cinematically without a fictional character to link the two? Can it be told without paying just lip service to the Burnham side? Maybe. And if not they should probably scrap it. It’s a question of balance: The Holmes story on its own is too depressing and gruesome. You’ll get a small audience of crime/horror fans and no crossover. And of course, the Burnham story alone would bore most viewers to tears. How do you convincingly combine the two threads into something that resonates thematically greater than the sum of the parts? That’s the real trick. If done right, this could be a box office hit with an historical story that captures the imagination and interest of the public like “Titanic” did. If done wrong, it will end up as an ambitious but failed sprawling mess, like “Ragtime”. And the difference between the two hinges on very little.

  15. Cheryl says:

    “Devil in the White City” is a seamless blend of history and and true artistry. With DiCaprio and Scorsese joining forces to bring Larson’s novel to the big screen, I am certain I won’t be disappointed. But, please, keep Jay Z away from the soundtrack!

  16. I thought the book by Eric Larson was riveting. Those commenters in this thread who don’t like the genre, the director, the actor, etc., why not just move along? Your negativity is like that dirt cloud that is always hanging over the Peanuts character “Pigpen.” My grandma, with whom I used to love to watch scary movies, used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

    I wonder who would play Burnham…. (George Clooney?) I wish my grandma were alive to see the movie with me when it comes out. (She was four-years-old at the time of the Chicago Worlds Fair.)

  17. benhammott says:

    It will be interesting to see how the movie will bring the two parts of the story together, the construction of the World Fair and Holmes building of his hotel and murders.
    One of the best books about Holmes, which contains the book written by the detective in charge of the investigation into Holmes’s crimes, and Holmes confessions, is THE HUNT FOR H. H. HOLMES
    Holmes was truly an evil man and hopefully after many delays the movie will finally be filmed.
    If you want to read an atmospheric dramatization about Henry Holmes heinous murders and crimes, try “An Insatiable Thirst for Murder!”, available from Amazon.

  18. IT 2 IT says:

    SCORSESE directs Robert DeNIRO as — – —-STALIN!

    Script by David MAMET and Oliver STONE.

    Joe PESCI as BERIA.

    Sean PENN as MALENKOV.

    NOW we’re getting somewhere!

  19. Bill B. says:

    I sure don’t get Scorsese’s fascination with DiCaprio. Time is catching up with him. Why not work with some other actors. There are a lot more interesting actors out there than DiCaprio.

    • wayne Klein says:

      Because they respect each other as artists and because DiCaprio can get a film greenlit. Scorsese wants to work. Simple as that.

    • Brigette says:

      While I understand what you are saying, I think the process of developing and creating a movie, creating art, is very personal for some filmmakers. I think DiCaprio is a man who Scorsese just clicks with. When you work in such intense conditions, and direct another person so precisely in their work, it can be traumatic (on both sides–actor or director) to work with someone who is not open to direction and as impassioned as you are. I know in the “regular Joe” type jobs I’ve had, a friend, a “work husband”, even a person who shares an interest makes life bearable. I presume that we all want to find people with whom we can work to achieve a goal while getting along in the easiest, most natural way. Just a thought.

    • Dave J says:

      Although, I whole heartedly agree with you for the most part, the character Leo is portraying is not exactly the most ideal person to watch!

  20. Arnie Tracey says:

    Multi-Murder in Chicago: A sordid horror-show, to be acted by a washed-up child-actor, and traffic-copped by a terminally burnt-out, formerly genius director.

  21. Kelly jch says:

    The book was GREAT and I’m sure it will a great film. And the right people are doing the film.
    So I can’t wait for it to hit the theaters. I’ll be there

  22. james says:

    The white city refers to Chicago. Nothing to do with race.

    • The Loon says:

      it actually refers to the World’s Fair buildings that were all made with white plaster…it was a temporary city built just for the event

  23. Tim says:

    In our political correct society, they’d better drop the term ‘White City’ from the title. Who needs marches before they even start production?

  24. IT 2 IT says:

    SCORSESE ain’t getting any younger.

    He’s been spinning his wheels since ‘Goodfellas’.

    AT his age, he hasn’t even gotten beyond
    ———————- celebrating PSYCHOPATHS and PSYCHOPATHY?

    Guess the sell out really DOES demand your soul.

  25. KB says:

    Another serial killer movie? Really? The book was OK, but honestly Holmes’s story is just repulsive.

  26. David Lee says:

    What about the “Crowded Room” movie? Is it going to be postponed due to this movie?!

  27. I’m already looking forward to it.

  28. Homer says:

    Zzzzzzz. I’d rather he work with De Niro again one last time…

  29. Indieshack says:

    Sorry, the story is too rich for me. Children were murdered and yes, it was over 100 years ago but I won’t be watching it.

  30. spike says:

    Hey Marty, can’t you do something more uplifting than your usual menu of blood and mayhem? Hugo doesn’t make up for all your blood and guts movies, you wiseguy worshipper. Come back from the dark side, Marty. or maybe you can’t make movies that sell without the requisite number of dead bodies stacking up within your two-hour slot.

    • Yep says:

      Totally agree. I’m so over Scorsese. IMHO, his last great movie was The Age of Innocence. Ever since then, he hasn’t known what to do with himself. Time to seriously just retire. And DiCaprio, WTF is his problem with women…???? He’s just been on a misogynistic streak since The Wolf of Wall Street. What’s the deal with him? Sleeping with supermodels just isn’t enough to make him happy? Ugh. So sick of him.

      • Uran Idiot says:

        “He’s just been on a misogynistic streak since The Wolf of Wall Street. ”

        A whole ONE movie streak,eh? Wow! He better really watch it. He’ll make his 2nd movie since then…

      • Dave J says:

        Although, Goodfelllas is one of Scorsese’s best movies, he hasn’t been able to do anything just as good since Leo DiCaprio came into the picture, which the only reason Scorsese is continuing to do these mediocre movies with him is I’m assuming, so that he can garner enough money to make “The Irishman” with DeNiro, Keitel and Pesci!

      • White City says:

        LMAOOO awwwww suck it up buttercup, don’t like it, don’t watch it. No one cares about your “politically correct” views of the widely talented Scorsese and Di Caprio… And btw, Goodfellas is not only the greatest mafia movie ever made, I’ll go as far as saying it’s the greatest film ever made, IMHO, all his movies are the bees knees… Don’t like it? Get over it and move on with your day ya up tight liberals

    • gabrielnroy says:

      Hugo is the only movie like what you like and he made it just a few years ago so NO, if you are expecting Martin Scorsese to be doing movies like this from now on you clearly don’t know him mate.

  31. Contessa46 says:

    Fabulous book–love both story lines. Can’t wait to see it!

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