EXCLUSIVE: Matt Damon is in the early stages of attaching to star as the fugitive billionaire commodities trader Marc Rich in The King of Oil. Universal Pictures has optioned the project for Sunday Night Productions, which is John Krasinski’s production banner. Sources said Krasinski, who’s coming off the sleeper smash A Quiet Place, might eventually direct the film, but I’m being told right now that is premature.
The film is based on The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich, a no-holds-barred biography of Rich written by Daniel Ammann that sheds new light on one of the most controversial international businessmen of all time. Krasinski and Allyson Seeger are producing for Sunday Night Productions, and Vincent Sieber and Uri Singer are also producing. Singer first optioned the book through his Passage Pictures and then partnered with Sunday Night.
Joe Shrapnel & Anna Waterhouse will adapt the screenplay. Executive Vice President Mark Sourian will oversee production for Universal.
The public will remember Rich from that controversial pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office. Rich was a child of the Holocaust who became the wealthiest and most powerful oil and commodities trader of the century until his 1983 indictments on 65 criminal counts including tax evasion. The book detailed Rich’s illegal dealings with Iran during the hostage crisis and his quiet cooperation with the Cuban, Israeli and U.S. governments. The Glencore founder never faced a judge or jury: Rich was in Switzerland when he was indicted on those criminal counts and lived his life abroad until he died at age 78 in 2013.
Boston-bred Damon and Krasinski have teamed before on Manchester by the Sea and together they wrote and starred in the Gus Van Sant-directed fracking drama Promised Land. Damon is revving to star with Christian Bale in Ford Vs. Ferrari which James Mangold is directing at Fox about the race for domination between those car makers at Le Mans in 1966. Krasinski next stars as Jack Ryan in the Amazon series of the same name.
Steve Gordon, Greg Moss and Daniel Turcan are exec producers.
Damon is repped by WME and Ziffren Brittenham; Krasinski is WME and Schreck Rose; the scribes, who are in production on Against All Enemies, are repped by CAA, Grandview, Curtis Brown Group and attorney Sean A. Marks.