The King of Oil

John Krasinski shocked the world with his low-budget horror hit A Quiet Place, and we’re all eagerly awaiting his next effort as a director. It’s still unclear whether he’ll step behind the camera for a new film called The King of Oil, but Krasinski will produce the movie and may even reunite with frequent collaborator Matt Damon for it, too. Damon is in early talks to star in the film, which tells the true story of Marc Rich, a disgraced oil billionaire known as “one of the most controversial international businessmen of all time.”

The Hollywood Reporter says that Universal Pictures has optioned Daniel Ammann’s 2009 book The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich for Krasinski’s production company Sunday Night Productions. Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, a writing duo who wrote 2016’s Race and are writing the sequel to Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow, will tackle the screenplay. Damon is in early talks to play Rich.

Marc Rich was a controversial figure: a hedge fund manager and international commodities trader who made some shady deals with Iran during the hostage crisis that was loosely depicted in 2012’s Argo. He was eventually indicted in the United States on multiple criminal counts, including federal tax evasion, but Rich never returned to the U.S. to face those charges. He became embroiled in even more controversy when former President Bill Clinton pardoned Rich on Clinton’s last day in office; THR says Rich’s ex-wife Denise donated significant contributions to Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate campaign and to the Clinton Library foundation.

Deadline’s sources say Krasinski might eventually decide to direct The King of Oil, though the outlet cautions that to announce him as a director at this point would be “premature.” We know Krasinski has a sci-fi film called Life on Mars lined up, but it’s unclear when that project will begin production and whether this one could potentially jump ahead of it in line.

Krasinski and Damon have worked together a number of times already. Damon produced and Krasinski executive produced Kenneth Lonergan’s Oscar-winning drama Manchester by the Sea, and the two of them co-wrote and co-starred in Gus Van Sant’s quiet indie drama Promised Land back in 2012. That movie was about fracking, so it’s clear that the exploitation of oil is something they’re interested in as storytellers.

I like the talent associated with this project, but I’m not convinced Rich’s story deserves the movie treatment. Is right now really the best time to tell the true story of a scheming billionaire who exploited a loophole to avoid facing the consequences of breaking the law? I’d argue no, but maybe that’s just me.

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