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Ridley Scott Set for Narco Drama ‘The Cartel’

Fox and Ridley Scott are taking on “The Cartel,” developing a movie version of Don Winslow’s novel that carries strong similarities to the true story of escaped drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

The studio outbid several rivals for film rights to Winslow’s recently published book.

Scott will direct from a Shane Salerno adaptation and produce through his Fox-based Scott Free Films along with the banner’s Michael Schaefer. Salerno will also produce through his Story Factory company.

Steve Asbell will oversee the project for Fox.

“The Cartel,” published last month, centers on two former friends whose paths diverged when one went to work for the Drug Enforcement Agency and the other joined the Sonora drug cartel. The book covers the decade between 2004 and 2014 and is a follow-up to his 2006 novel “The Power of the Dog.”

“The Cartel” includes an escape from prison that’s similar to Guzman’s real-life 2001 escape from a federal prison. He escaped again on July 11.

Scott is in post-production on Matt Damon sci-fi drama “The Martian,” which Fox opens Oct. 2.

Salerno was a co-writer on Oliver Stone’s adaptation of Winslow’s drug cartel novel “Savages.” He is also working with James Cameron on the fourth “Avatar” film.

CAA brokered the movie deal and reps Salerno and Winslow. Salerno is also repped by Sloane Offer. Scott is repped by WME.

The news was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

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