Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play cult leader Jim Jones and Chloë Grace Moretz will play a member of the Peoples Temple founder’s inner circle in “White Night,” a new film about one of the largest murder-suicides in history.
The Jonestown Massacre, as it is more commonly known, resulted in the deaths of more than 900 people, most of them Jones’ followers. They followed the Christian Socialist preacher and faith healer to Guyana, where he worked to establish a remote jungle commune, only to find their dreams of creating a religious paradise devolve into an abusive nightmare.
FilmNation Entertainment will finance the movie and produce it with Archer Gray. “White Night” is directed by Anne Sewitsky (“A Very British Scandal”) and based on Deborah Layton’s best-selling memoir “Seductive Poison.” William Wheeler (“The Ghost in the Shell”) wrote the script. FilmNation will launch worldwide sales at EFM.
“White Night” is a psychological thriller that follows Layton’s (Moretz) haunting true story, as she rises through the ranks at Peoples Temple, only to turn on Jones and fight to expose the truth about him to the world before it’s too late.
“Debbie Layton’s ‘Seductive Poison’ was the first book Anne Carey and I optioned at Archer Gray, and it formed the foundation of our mission to help give voice to the stories it was time to hear,” said Archer Gray’s CEO, Amy Nauiokas. “Debbie’s incredible journey with the People’s Temple deserves an audience across generations. It should serve as warning about the power a certain type of charismatic leader can have and the very real lessons to be learned from our history.”
“When we first read Bill Wheeler’s adaptation, it was seeing this infamous story from Deborah’s point of view that unlocked it psychologically and dramatically. Entering Jim Jones’ magnetic orbit through the eyes of an idealistic, passionate young woman reminded us that anyone can fall victim to extremism, given the right circumstances. Anne’s urgent, thrilling vision for the film will make ‘White Night’ a propulsive, immersive experience for this moment, while being the definitive portrayal of this timeless story,” said FilmNation’s president of production Ashley Fox.
Sewitsky’s feature directorial debut, “Happy Happy” won the grand jury prize at Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Filming on “White Night” will begin this spring.
Most recently, Moretz starred in the sci-fi thriller “Mother/Android.” Her credits include “Kick-Ass,” “Hugo” and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” Gordon-Levitt will next be seen starring as Uber founder Travis Kalanick in the Showtime limited series “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” and will be featured as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Robert Zemeckis’s live-action adaptation of “Pinocchio.” His credits include “500 Days of Summer,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
Sewitsky is repped by CAA and 42MP. Moretz is repped by WME, T Squared Entertainment, Sloane Offer Weber and Dern, and Narrative. Gordon-Levitt is repped by WME, Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein, and The Spotlight Company. Wheeler is repped by WME and Anonymous Content. Archer Gray is repped by FFKS.