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.
Colin Firth is set to co-star with Reese Witherspoon in Atom Egoyan‘s adaptation of Devil’s Knot. The film is based off Mara Leveritt‘s novel of the same name, which centers on the West Memphis Three. For those who don’t know, the West Memphis Three were three non-conformist teenagers who were arrested and convicted for the murder of three eight-year-old boys despite flimsy evidence and the jury’s ignorance and prejudice. The three remained in prison for almost 20 years on a crime they obviously didn’t commit. Their story was chronicled in the documentary Paradise Lost (and its two subsequent sequels) and the new documentary, West of Memphis.
Hit the jump for more.
It’s been almost 20 years since directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky started on their journey to tell the story of three brutally murdered children, left in the Robin Hood Hills of West Memphis, Arkansas, and the three teenagers who were held responsible. Arriving on the scene just days after the 1993 arrests, the filmmakers initially assumed they were making a documentary about guilty teenagers. But, after embedding themselves in the community prior to the 1994 trials, they came to question the guilt of the West Memphis 3 and, by the time the trials were over, they were convinced that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were the victims of a modern-day witch hunt. Now, HBO is premiering Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, the conclusion of the award-winning trilogy that tells the complete story of one of the most notorious child murder cases in U.S. history. This time around, the filmmakers chronicled stunning new developments that culminated in the unexpected release of all three men in August 2011, freeing them from prison, and Echols from Death Row, after more than 18 years.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, co-director/producer Joe Berlinger talked about why they decided to make a third film, approaching this as a comprehensive look at the entire case and its developments along the way while including new footage for those who had seen the two previous films, how disappointing it is that the state of Arkansas doesn’t have the courage to just admit that they made a mistake, how fascinating it was to see so many people have a change of heart about their guilt, and that he has marked most of his professional and personal life by this case, having been involved with it for so long. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Director Atom Egoyan’s (Chloe) next project Devil’s Knot is based on the true events surrounding the 1993 murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, and the subsequent arrest of three teens suspected of committing the murders through satanic rituals. Taking its title from the Mara Leveritt book by the same name, Devil’s Knot will presumably take a dramatic look at the investigation of the case, both by the local police involved and by journalists like Leveritt who found the arrest and conviction of the West Memphis Three highly suspicious. While details on the film are short, Reese Witherspoon is reportedly attached to star as Pam Hobbs, a mother of one of the victims who is at first convinced of the teenagers’ guilt, but starts to question their conviction once the case drags on. Hit the jump for more on Devil’s Knot.
We have two interesting bits of casting news for you today. First up is the recent addition of Tom Savini (From Dusk ‘Till Dawn) to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. The visionary director’s latest picture features Jamie Foxx as the eponymous freed slave who sets out to rescue his wife from plantation boss, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Savini will play Ellis Brittle, one of three slave-owning outlaws responsible for the rape and branding of Django’s wife, Broomhilda.
Additionally, Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three is reportedly being offered a small role in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Echols is currently in New Zealand with Jackson, who, along with his partner Fran Walsh, has been a major financial backer to the investigation. Hit the jump for more on both projects.