Universal acquires rights to ‘Savages’

Oliver Stone pic is based on the novel by Don Winslow

Universal Pictures has won domestic distribution rights to Oliver Stone’s “Savages.”

At least two other studios had been circling the adaptation of Don Winslow’s 2010 novel.

Story follows two drug kingpins living in Laguna Beach who are forced to work for a Mexican cartel after their free-spirited friend O is kidnapped.

Stone co-wrote the script with Shane Salerno. The helmer is now looking to lock down the cast to meet the June start date; offers are out to Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch to play the dealers as well as for Benicio Del Toro to play a cartel enforcer.

Stone has been conducting readings for O, the last big role yet to be cast.

There was interest in Jennifer Lawrence, but her recent commitment to Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” forced her to pass on the role. Thesps who have shown interest since Stone began another round of readings include Teresa Palmer, Blake Lively and Olivia Wilde.

Stone and Moritz Borman are producing through Stone’s Ixtlan shingle.

Stone most recently directed “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” for Fox. He is repped by CAA.