He’s busily preparing to direct The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for Warner Bros. and between that, another Sherlock Holmes and the potential for a visit to Treasure Island, you’d think that Guy Ritchie would have enough on his plate. You would be wrong – Warners has just snapped up the rights to Thomas Kelly’s book Empire Rising as a potential Ritchie film.
Sadly, at this point we must note that, like 300: Rise Of An Empire, the new project is nothing to do with this magazine. No, everyone involved is throwing away a prime opportunity for action, drama, thrills and romance (and that’s just the editor’s journey to work every morning) for yet another tale focused on an iconic bit of New York's skyline. Where’s the imagination? Where’s the love? The Podcast alone could be the source of an amazing film, albeit one that would make the BBFC’s Swear-O-Meter explode after 13 minutes.
Kelly’s novel, which hit shelves in 2006, is a love triangle set in 1930 as the Depression starts to cripple the States and the construction of the Empire State Building begins. Our hero is Michael Briody, an Irish immigrant who plies his trade as a steelworker on the building but who is also running guns for the IRA. Then there’s Johnny Farrell, a bagman for the mayor who has his fingers in all manner of political corruption. And between them is an artist named Grace Masterson, who is chronicling the building work and falls for them both.
The potential here is for an epic historical drama set against one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Kelly – who also oversees TV drama Copper, itself set in 1865 – is on to write the script for Ritchie and producing partner Lionel Wigram, which will sprinkle in real-life figures amongst the fiction.
U.N.C.L.E., meanwhile, has Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill set to lead it, and will kick off shooting soon.