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Dennis Lehane to Write Screenplay for Stefano Sollima’s ‘Colt’ (EXCLUSIVE)

U.S. author and screenwriter Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River,” “The Wire”) is attached to write the screenplay for “Colt,” the English-language Western based on a Sergio Leone concept, with Italy’s Stefano Sollima directing and Leone’s children producing.

Known in Hollywood for “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and TV series “Gomorrah,” Sollima will be in Venice for the world premiere of his anticipated cocaine trafficking series “ZeroZeroZero,” launching from the Lido on Sept. 5.

About the previously announced “Colt” project, Sollima says that while the concept was developed by Italians, “obviously, if you want to shoot the film in English, the next step was to find a great American writer who can make the characters talk and live in a reality that is clearly different from our own.”

The director praised Lehane as “one of the great” contemporary American writers, noting his “depth and ability to drill down on characters.” 

“Having him on board is the best I could hope for,” Sollima said, adding that he’s a “huge fan” of everything Lehane has written, from the novels “Mystic River” and “Shutter Island” to his work on “The Wire,” which Sollima called a “seminal” TV show. Lehane more recently worked on skein “Mr. Mercedes.” 

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“Colt” is being produced by Leone’s children, Raffaella and Andrea, through their Leone Film Group, with Italy’s RAI Cinema on board. They are shopping the project to prospective U.S. partners.

Originally conceived as a TV series, “Colt” takes its cue from the gun packed by Clint Eastwood in “A Fistful of Dollars,” which becomes a narrative device as it is passed from owner to owner throughout the Old West.

Sollima has described “Colt” as a coming-of-age story of three kids, aged 12 or 13, “who as orphans come into possession of this weapon, and for a whole host of reasons become criminals.” The film will target young audiences.

The director, whose late father, Sergio, was a Spaghetti Western pioneer who directed Lee Van Cleef-starrer “The Big Gundown,” told Variety in May that, with “Colt,” he wants to “take the [Spaghetti] Western genre back home” to Italy. Sollima and the Leones are seeking A-list U.S. talent to play several adult characters, including a lead protagonist and antagonist, besides the three young teens.

The plan is to go into pre-production next summer and start shooting in Canada in the winter of 2020.

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