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Warner Bros Taps Guy Ritchie For Historical Love Story 'Empire Rising'

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by Drew Taylor
August 20, 2013 8:35 PM
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While filming has yet to commence on "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," his feature film adaptation of the beloved spy series starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, Warner Bros and director Guy Ritchie have already lined up their next project: "Empire Rising," a historical romance set around the construction of the Empire State Building. Author Thomas Kelly, who wrote the 2006 novel on which the film is based, will also provide the screenplay for the film. Something tells us that executives are comparing this to "Titanic" more than "Pearl Harbor," when it comes to epically staged historical love triangles. Sorry, Affleck.

According to the Hollywood Reporter report, the book centers on a love triangle between Michael Briody, an Irish steelworker who has connections to the IRA, who is on the wrong side of the triangle with Johnny Farell, a shady operative for Mayor Jimmy Walker. The point in this triangle is, of course, a beautiful woman named Grace Masterson who is trying to make it as an artist in Depression-era New York City. 

Kelly is a big fan of old timey New York City, as he is a writer and producer on BBC America series "Copper," which takes place in 1865 and is virtually indistinguishable from other BBC show "Ripper Street." Before that he was a writer and supervising producer on CBS series "Blue Bloods," which takes place in modern day New York but features a lot of old timey mustaches like the one worn by Tom Selleck.

Warner Bros has released every Guy Ritchie movie since 2008's underrated crime movie "RocknRolla," including two wildly successful Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey, Jr. (a third film is undoubtedly somewhere in the production pipeline). "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." has had a storied history as well, with it initially lined up as Steven Soderbergh's swan song that would double as an epic reteaming with his frequent collaborator George Clooney, but after he and the studio butted heads over a replacement for Clooney (who left due to an previously sustained injury), Soderbergh left the project and made the excellent "Behind the Candelabra" for HBO. Tom Cruise was at one point attached to an earlier Ritchie iteration, but then left to focus on "Mission: Impossible 5."

According to the Hollywood Reporter piece on "Empire Rising," Ritchie will be working on "Man from U.N.C.L.E." from a new screenplay fashioned by Ritchie and his producing partner Lionel Wigram (who worked with Soderbergh way back in 1995 on "The Underneath"), meaning that the highly touted, period-set script by Scott Z. Burns has been jettisoned completely.

"The Man from U.N.C.L.E." isn't scheduled to hit theaters until sometime next year, while "Empire Rising" has yet to even be tentatively penciled in.

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