It seems that screenwriter Will Staples is at his most comfortable writing male ensemble pieces. The former videogame scribe has an as-yet untested body of work that seems to feature groups of men in all kinds of dramatic scenarios. Aside from Mission: Impossible 5, Ben Affleck has apparently tapped him to write a film about a team of mercenaries hunting a brutal warlord in Africa, director Gavin Hood is attached to direct Staples’ Alaskan adventure, featuring a team of 20 men, 200 sled dogs and a race against time, and the currently titled King Of Heists is Staples’ adaptation of J. North Conway’s book about the biggest bank robbery in US history.
Indeed, it appears to be the case that, if you give him an interesting team of guys, Will Staples can deliver a fascinating dramatic premise. That is certainly the case with the latest project to be added to his slate – an animal trafficking story, featuring the involvement of Leonardo DiCaprio (with Appian Way), Tom Hardy (with Executive Options) and Tobey Maguire (with Material Pictures).
The trio of dramatic heavy-hitters are teaming up to produce the film, which is intended to be an examination of an industry that traffics parts of murdered animals for use in ‘natural remedies,’ among other things. It will encompass many locations around the world, tracing the problematic supply and demand of animal parts. Drawing together a number of story threads, the film will feature corrupt business people, poachers, suppliers and the like – all seeking to benefit from the slaughter of land-based and marine life.
It is not yet clear whether DiCaprio or Maguire – or both – will also star in the film, but we can probably assume that Tom Hardy will not, since he is also developing his own animal trafficking drama separately. That film will be written by Up In The Air co-writer, Sheldon Turner, and will be produced by Hardy, who will star as a Special Forces soldier training rangers in Africa to fight poachers. Interestingly, both poaching pictures will be coming from Warner Bros, so presumably, we can expect to see one well in advance of the other. Tom Hardy’s own film currently seems to be further along in the development process, but once Will Staples has a final script draft, we should see more announcements about that project in short order.