Columbia, Red Wagon get ‘Wettest’

John Hillcoat to direct moonshine gang movie

Columbia Pictures has preemptively snapped up Matt Bondurant’s upcoming novel “The Wettest County in the World” for Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher to produce through their Red Wagon shingle.

John Hillcoat, who’s shooting the bigscreen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy “The Road,” is attached to direct.

Based on a true story, “Wettest County in the World” revolves around a moonshine gang operating in the bootlegging capital of America — Franklin County, Va. — during Prohibition.

The novel, to be published by Scribner/Simon & Schuster in October, draws its roots from Bondurant’s grandfather and two granduncles, who made up a fierce criminal gang at the center of the country’s moonshine trade. The three brothers were eventually killed in 1930 after they refused to join the illegal cartel set up by Commonwealth’s Attorney Carter Lee, grandnephew of Robert E. Lee. Carter Lee was subsequently tried for conspiracy.

Col prexy Matt Tolmach said the book “is beautifully observed and has a very distinctive, strong narrative voice in the tradition of some of the best American novels.” This kind of material, he added, “is rare and doesn’t come along very often.”

Hillcoat’s credits include period Western “The Proposition.”