Warner Bros. is keen on continuing its relationship with filmmaker Guy Ritchie for quite some time, it seems. Ritchie and the studio have paired on his last three films, RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and the filmmaker is currently gearing up to direct The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for WB as well. Now THR reports that Warners has acquired the rights to the Thomas Kelly novel Empire Rising and will develop the project as a potential directing gig for Ritchie. The story takes place in 1930 and centers on events surrounding the construction of the titular Empire State Building, as a romantic triangle develops between Irish immigrant steelworker Michael Briody, Mayor Jimmy Walker’s criminal underworld liaison Johnny Farell, and a beautiful artist named Grace Masterson. Hit the jump for more, including a synopsis of the novel.
Hot off the box office success of the “Liam Neeson kills everyone” sequel Taken 2, director Olivier Megaton is looking to stick to the action genre for his next feature. Per Deadline, Megaton will next direct the $60 million action thriller Taking Gotham for Emmett/Furla Films. Written by Thomas Kelly, the pic is based on a true story and centers on “a secret unit of the NYPD that was created in response to a string of brutal robberies in New York City. After a deadly sting operation, the elite unit is disavowed by the NYPD, forcing them to go deep underground in order to clear their names.” So it’s like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but set in New York and presumably much more “gritty.”
Megaton previously helmed the actioners Transporter 3 and Colombiana before landing the Taken 2 gig, and despite scathing reviews the Neeson-fronted sequel grossed over $350 million worldwide against a budget of just $45 million. As such, Megaton likely didn’t have to look hard to find his next project. Casting on Taking Gotham is set to begin immediately ahead of a March 2013 production start-date.