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Though the Cold War is long over, there is still something satisfying and reliable about tales of Soviet Union stoicism and villainy, and both are at the center of British novelist Tom Rob Smith's chilling crime novel Child 44. Smith found inspiration for his novel, which focuses on a string of heinous child murders, in the shocking and true story of Andrei Chikatilo, a Ukrainian serial killer known as the Rostov Ripper who was prosecuted and executed for committing 52 murders within the USSR's borders. Making these crimes even more terrifying is the cultural zeitgeist that allowed him to remain hidden for so long.
Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate are teaming up to bring Smith's novel to the big screen with Scott Free Productions heading production. Interestingly, Scott Free co-founder Ridley Scott was first attached to project back in 2007 when it belonged to Fox. At the time he was also lined up to helm the picture, but Deadline reports he's only producing now, and it's Swedish director Daniel Espinosa who has been approached to helm.
Following the Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds thriller Safe House, Child 44 would mark Espinosa's second American feature, should he sign on. Though the former wasn't as warmly received by critics as his international breakthrough Snabba Cash (renamed: Easy Money for its release Stateside), Safe House made a respectable showing at the box office, pulling in $126 million domestically and making him a hot commodity in Hollywood. While he may have his pick of projects, Child 44 has plenty to offer the crime-thriller auteur. With Scott producing, and Summit prepping what could be the beginning of a thriller franchise—as the book Child 44 was the first entry of a trilogy—it could well be the Espinosa offering that wins over both critics and audiences in the U.S.
Child 44 may go into production in early 2013.