Nearly 15 years after his death, the life story of Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar is a hot Hollywood property — hot enough, in fact, to inspire dueling biopics.
Last week, we reported on the Yari Group’s fast-tracking of Killing Pablo, the Escobar film based on Mark Bowden‘s book Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw — and on a blog post from Killing Pablo‘s director, Joe Carnahan, who had some unkind words about the script for a competing film, titled simply Escobar.
The IMDB lists Andrzej Bartkowiak as Escobar‘s director, but this is inaccurate; according to a report published by Variety yesterday, the film is being directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by Oliver Stone, Justin Berfield, and Jason Felts. (Variety describes the script as being rewritten by David McKenna.)
Escobar is based on Mi Hermano Pablo, the memoir written by Pablo’s brother/accountant, Roberto Escobar Gaviria — which might explain why Carnahan described the script as “hagiographic.” Berfield dismissed Carnahan’s outburst, telling Variety:
“Joe Carnahan’s notion of us poaching his territory and rushing for a pre-strike start is false. We’ve been working with Robert and a half-dozen consultants for a year and a half to tell an accurate story.”
Escobar Gaviria drew a further distinction between the two films, saying:
“My brother will be portrayed as a ruthless head of the Medellin cartel…this is just 10% of the story. The other 90% is the story others trying to portray him simply don’t have.”
As the Variety article goes on to point out, when biopics go head-to-head, timing tends to be everything — and with Carnahan tied up directing a George Clooney-led adaptation of James Ellroy‘s White Jazz, it looks like Killing Pablo could very well reach screens after Escobar. Start placing your bets now.