William Friedkin (The Exorcist, Killer Joe) has signed on to develop and direct an adaptation of Don Winslow’s bestselling 2007 novel, The Winter of Frankie Machine. The crime drama centers on Frank Machianno a.k.a. Frankie Machine, a retired mob hitman who is drawn back into the life when he agrees to help resolve conflict between two crime syndicates. When Frankie realizes the meeting was a “set-up” scheme to kill him, he adopts his old persona once more. Winslow — whose current best seller The Cartel is in development at Fox with Ridley Scott attached to direct — is on-board to either write or co-write the script for Frankie Machine.
The Winter of Frankie Machine has made the hollywood rounds a few times since it debuted nearly a decade ago. Martin Scorsese was attached to direct at one point, then Michael Mann signed on for Paramount Pictures with Robert De Niro in talks for the title role. In Friedkin’s hands, the project is a free-agent, not yet attached to any studio.
Deadline reports that Friedkin wants to make Frankie Machine “down and dirty, on a low budget, like he did with his 2011 Matthew McConaughey vehicle Killer Joe. The previous paramount incarnations were set for somewhere in the $70 million range, but Friedkin wants to knock out the project for under $15 million.
That’s the most exciting way the project could be done. Friedkin is a rare specimen in directorial terms, a virile, uncompromising filmmaker whose work hasn’t seen a decline in verve or vim over the years. As a working cinema legend, I’m intrigued to see what actor he can lock down for the challenging lead role on such a restricted budget.
Friedkin is currently also developing a serialized adaptation of his 1979 feature film To Live and Die in LA with Bobby Moresco for WGN America.