Sony Pictures Snaps Up Hunting El Chapo While Courting Michael Bay

It seems that infamous drug kingpin El Chapo is just as sought after while incarcerated as he was while fleeing from justice – at least as far as Hollywood is concerned. Despite rival projects being developed at other studios, Sony Pictures has won a heated race to acquire the screen rights for a not-yet published book on the subject, and is consequently working its own movie – tentatively titled Hunting El Chapo.

In 2014, it was reported that Universal had hired Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club) to adapt Patrick Radden Keefe’s New Yorker article, titled The Hunt For El Chapo. The studio had set Peter Berg (Patriots Day) to produce and direct, and it seemed like a perfect fit. Little more has been heard about that project, however, and now, it seems the window of opportunity for that movie might be rapidly closing. Patrick Radden Keefe’s New Yorker article may well be a notable piece of work, but the book to which Sony has just acquired the rights is apparently written by the man that led the hunt for El Chapo himself.

The book is called Hunting El Chapo: The Thrilling Inside Story Of The American Lawman Who Captured The World’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord, and is written By Cole Merrell and Douglas Century. Reportedly, Cole Merrell is the pseudonym used by the DEA agent that headed up the now legendary manhunt. The subject of the manhunt was Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman-Loera (also known as El Chapo), who was the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Despite having both INTERPOL and law enforcement agencies from both Mexico and the U.S trying to track him down, he managed to evade capture until 2014. He’s due to stand trial in October of this year, and the book in question is due for release in the fall, too.

As this project is still in its earliest stages, there’s no indication yet as to casting choices that might be made. Filmmaker Michael Bay was reportedly vying for the rights to Hunting El Chapo, too, but now that Sony Pictures has won that race, the studio is courting Bay to produce and direct the adaptation. We’ll be watching for further updates.