James Mangold Up For The Deep Blue Good-by

But Leonardo DiCaprio is no longer attached


The adaptation of John D. MacDonald’s first Travis McGee novel has been in development since at least 2009, when Leonardo DiCaprio set up the project with Fox, intending to star. That didn’t work out, mostly thanks to DiCaprio’s busy schedule, but the studio is ploughing on. Following its successful collaboration with James Mangold on The Wolverine, the director is now in talks to bring McGee to the screen in The Deep Blue Good-By.

That is not a typo lurking in the last line: MacDonald’s book uses the title that way. Mystic River novelist Dennis Lehane has written the most recent draft of the script, which introduces McGee as a sort of proto-Reacher beach bum who also happens to specialise in kicking ass and wooing women.

The "salvage consultant," who lives on a beat-up houseboat in Bahia Mar, Lauderdale also helps people to recover lost property in return for half its value. In this adventure, he beds and befriends a woman named Cathy Kerr who then asks him for help against a man called Junior Allen, a smiling psychopath and rapist who's trying to find a fortune brought back to Florida by a World War II soldier.

Since the McGee novel series stretches to 21 titles in all, Fox is clearly hoping for a franchise, and several big directors have considered the job. Mangold, who is also looking to set up the next Wolverine film, will likely make this first, assuming he finds someone right for the main character now DiCaprio’s out.