Dallas Buyers Club Screenwriter Cashing In For John D. Rockefeller Biopic

By Nick Venable 2014-02-12 05:37:51discussion comments
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Screenwriter Craig Borten knows a little something about success, as his first produced screenplay for Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club, co-written with Melisa Wallack, has earned him worldwide acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. For his next film, he’ll be taking on another biographical tale for the monolithic story of John D. Rockefeller, as he’ll be adapting Ron Chernow’s 1998 book Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, which Relativity has recently optioned. There’s nothing that keeps me more humble than watching millionaire’s making money playing billionaires.

As Deadline states, directorial duties for this project have been given to Lasse Hallström, the Swedish filmmaker whose early career and eventual breakout film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape are immensely more interesting than his last few English flicks, which include the two Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations Safe Haven and Dear John, as well as 2011’s touching but arguably non-memorable Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. My theory is, Hallström’s got a lot of material to work with here, so the subject matter should be interesting even if the camera work isn’t overwhelmingly exciting. He recently wrapped the production of the interesting (and equally frothy feel-good) drama The Hundred-Foot Journey with Helen Mirren.

Chernow’s book is the first Rockefeller biography written with full access to the mogul’s huge collection of personal papers. Having come from meager beginnings, Rockefeller rose to the greatest height of any American at the time as the founder of Standard Oil, which monopolized the market and made its owner the very first billionaire. While he is often remembered for his unlawful tactics and backroom dealings, Titan is not a tabloid work that seeks to throw the man under a bus. It’s a humanized story that touches upon his religious upbringing and his eventual turn to philanthropy, which saw him giving away much of his fortune through scholarships and other educational funding.

I suppose there are two questions to be asked at this point. One: considering it took Borten’s Dallas Buyers Club twenty years to make it from his first draft to the screen, are we ever going to see this Rockefeller pic come out during our lifetimes? And two: do you think Matthew McConaughey or Daniel Day Lewis is going to get the part? I’m betting on the latter.

There’s no word on whether they’re looking to make this Hallström’s next project or not, but we’ll keep an eye out for cascading dollar signs. If you’re so inclined, check out a short biography on Rockefeller below.


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