Johnny Depp to Produce Film Based on Upcoming Memoir from West Memphis Three’s Damien Echols

     February 7, 2012


Now that the West Memphis Three have been released from prison and their saga “completed”, films based on their ordeal are rushing into production.  Atom Egoyan is adapting Mara Leveritt‘s non-fiction novel Devil’s Knot, and now Johnny Depp is producing a film based on an upcoming untitled memoir from the West Memphis Three’s Damien Echols.  Echols’ was one of three teenagers wrongly convicted for the murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkhansas in 1993.  Their story was originally brought to national attention by the documentary Paradise Lost.  Since that time, celebrities like Depp, Peter Jackson, Eddie Vedder, Natalie Maines, and Henry Rollins have supported Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr, and Jason Baldwin and their quest for justice.

Hit the jump for more details on the project.

According to Deadline, Depp and his producing partner Christi Dembrowski will produce through their Infinitum Nihil banner with Echols and his wife Lorri Davis as executive producers.  Per Deadline, “Their collective take is to spotlight the controversial conviction and imprisonment of the then 18-year-old who’s now in his mid-30s and to present his life before conviction as well its twists and turns leading to release.”

Usually blockbusters are racing to be first out the gate, but the same race holds true to smaller features as well (see Capote vs. Infamous).  Egoyan’s film will focus on Ron Lax (played by Colin Firth), a private investigator who was the first pro bono supporter of the defendants; the film co-stars Reese Witherspoon as Pam Hobbs, a mother of one of the victims who at first was convinced of the teenagers’ guilt, but started to question their conviction when the case began to drag on.

Since Egoyan’s film is already in the casting process and Echols’ book has yet to be released, it looks like Devil’s Knot will hit theaters first.  That doesn’t mean it will be the better of the two movies, and I’m curious to find out the writers, directors, and cast that will come on board Depp’s movie.


Around The Web
  • GiGi

    Longing & praying for the day that there is … Justice for all SIX victims … Stevie, Christopher, Michael, Jessie, Jason, & Damien. Lord, let it be so.

  • Alisha

    You’re completely right, GiGi. They deserve justice. All six of them do.

  • West Memphis Three

    Many people believe the WM3 were not innocent but guilty as charged and that they were the ones that committed the crime. They were found guilty by a unanimous jury the first time. They plead guilty instead of waiting for a trial the second time.

    Will they tell the truth about Echols’ history?

    Echols had a history of psychiatric treatment and psychotic behavior. His reported actions included brutally killing a dog, starting fires at his school, threatening to kill his teachers and parents and stating he liked to drink blood.

    Echols’ stated under cross-examination that he was interested in the occult. A funeral register found in his room with hand-drawn pentagrams and upside-down crosses. Echols’ journal contained morbid images and references to dead children.

    • Stee

      WM3, You sound just like the rediculous prosecutor and his ilk that got them convicted the first time. As for “pleading guilty” they took the Alford plea because the prosecutor told them that it was all 3 or no one. Because Echol’s was on death row the others (who wanted to wait) agreed to take the plea. It was a sad miscarrige by the Prosecutor to make sure they couldn’t sue for false imprisonment.

      So what if he was interested in the occult? Do you even know what a pentagram is or stands for? Some might say that all organised religeon is “cultish”?

      Look at the evidence, or lack of it rather. DNA doesn’t lie and there was zero, none of their DNA at the scene. In fact though, there was DNA from a step father and his friend who were supposedly searching for them but had been seen with the boys earlier on that day after stating they had not seen the boys at all? The evidence in the case pointed at others. Nothing but hearsay and innuendo pointed to the WM3.

  • West Memphis Three

    You sound like one of those people that have watched the one sided movies that leave out the evidence of the three’s guilt.

    They probably took the Alford Plea because they were afraid they would be found guilty again. Under the Alford plea, the defendant admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Echols’ beliefs were part of the reason for the crime (besides his history of violence).

    The lack of DNA evidence from the 3 convicted is not surprising considering the conditions (the bodies were found in water) and the length of time it took to find the bodies.

    Police took a necklace from Echols when he was arrested. An outside crime lab later found blood from two distinct DNA sources on the necklace. One source was consistent with Echols himself. The second source was consistent with both victim Steven Branch and co-defendant Jason Baldwin.

    The DNA found at the scene of the crime of the three murdered boys that was supposedly from Hobbs was from a hair that could have come from simple contact with one of the victims. The hair could have belonged to 1.5 percent of the population (or several million people).

    The evidence against Hobbs is very weak. The evidence and the many confessions against the WM3 is much stronger.

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  • Burk

    There is no evidence against the West Memphis Three. There never was. The police were focused on Damien Echols long before they ever coerced Jessie Misskelley into repeating back the stories they were telling him. If you believe it was Jessie “confessing” that proves they’re guilty, then how the the police know anything before they coerced him? Why were they already convinced that Damien was guilty? Why had they tried on several other occasions to get people to implicate Damien? Why did they ignore other “confessions” that are documented (confessions that don’t implicate Damien)? Why did they never investigate anyone BUT Damien? Why did they never question the parents or neighbors of the victims? Why did they visit Damien the day after the bodies were found? Did they just magically “guess” that Damien was guilty?
    And saying that they “..took the Alford plea because they were afraid they would be found guilty again” doesn’t make sense. Why would they even be OFFERED something like that by the state if the state felt they were truly guilty? Why would the state release three people they know to be guilty of murdering 3 children? And if it’s so obvious that they’re guilty, then where’s all the outrage from the citizens of Arkansas and elsewhere that the state released three “monsters” back out onto the streets? Here’s why there’s no outrage: It’s because it’s obvious to anyone who has spent more than a few seconds looking into the facts that the WM3 are innocent. Are you perhaps suggesting that the State of Arkansas was pressured into releasing them because they were intimidated by Peter Jackson and Johnny Depp? Was the DA afraid of “Hollywood?” No – the WM3 were released because the state had threatened to drag this thing out for another decade – and presented the WM3 with an offer to get this embarrassment off their backs. It was the state who made the deal. They released their hostages in exchange for immunity.
    Jason, Damien and Jessie decided that they had a better chance of fighting for exoneration from the outside than from the inside where they had no rights, were threatened daily and unable to speak up about anything.
    Continue to believe that the justice system and law enforcement officials never make mistakes and are never corrupt and vindictive, and you will feel comfortable and safe, but you’ll be deluding yourself. This case is one of the most perfect examples in recent history of how badly the system can fail those it’s meant to protect. If you can’t afford justice and you’re considered “disposable” then your only chance for justice is that someone might be there to document your experience and share it with the world. Rational people who know how the real world works and take the time to look at this case can see it for exactly what it is.

  • Lisa Francis

    To the one who thinks they are still guilty. You said that you were not surprised that none of the WM3′s DNA was found at the scene. Well, you cant say that and really stand by that statement. Heres why: The bodies in the water washed away the WM3′s DNA but not Terry Hobbs? So now water can selectively remove eveidence it wants to? Wow thats creepy kind of like satanism! Thats backwards thinking right there! Pathetic!

  • lyricgirl Helen

    Lets just see the movie guys, and if they need an actress HELLO here i am…. Cut the costs bring in a new actress. xXx

  • West Memphis Three

    There was a lot of evidence showing the WM3 were guilty. The police probably considered Echols a suspect because of his long history of violence, violent threats and psychotic behavior.

    The Alford Plea was accepted by the state because the state knew it would be up against an OJ type defense. This would cost them a lot of money and if they lost, even more.

    Many people in the state were unhappy with the plea, according to a survey, so it is incorrect to state that there was no outrage. Todd and Diana Moore (two parents of the murdered children) were very unhappy about the release of the WM3.

    This case shows how money can free anyone. Even though there was solid evidence of guilty, the large pockets of the movie star and film maker supporters helped free three convicted murderers.

  • roygbiv67

    Obviously you did not do your research. Shame on you for even commenting, “guilty”. First of all, these kids did not commit this crime-there was no evidence of it, whatsoever. Second of all, everyone deserves a fair trial, black, white, young, weird, and those with “psychotic behavior”. Third, I hope you educated yourself in the 2 years since you posted this comment because even IGNORANT and UNEDUCATED people, like yourself, deserve the opportunity to read. Hopefully, you have learned how to read or for that matter, watch a documentary, and realize the whole arrest, trial, and conviction was a complete travesty.