While it’s been in the works for over a decade, The Devil In The White City adaptation is once again at a stand-still and bringing to life the phrase stuck in development hell. First published in 2003, this fascinating book tells the gripping story of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the serial killer who lurked in its shadows. The book has captivated millions of readers around the world with its rich historical detail and spine-tingling narrative. Unfortunately getting that story brought to life on screen has not been easy.
Don’t forget to check out the masterlist of all the EWKSF adaptation posts here on Alison in Libraryland!
This page was updated: 8/2/23
About The Book:
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book’s categorization to be sure that ‘The Devil in the White City’ is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.
Burnham’s challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair’s incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.
The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.
bookshop.org // Amazon // Audiobook
Current Production Status:
This project was cancelled right before filming in 2023 was expected to start and is now in ‘Development Hell’.
The Devil In The White City Adaptation Timeline:
Tom Cruise was first to try to develop an adaptation under his deal with Paramount but the rights lapsed in 2004. Paramount picked it up again in 2007 but again to no success.
Leonardo DiCaprio bought the rights to the book in 2010 and quickly got Martin Scorsese on board to direct a film version of the story with Paramount Pictures producing. However nothing came of this and the film did not get made.
In 2019 it was announced that Hulu had begun to develop a series adaptation with both DiCaprio and Scorsese attached to serve as executive producers.
Keanu Reeves was rumored to be in talks to join the project in January 2022, his involvement was then confirmed in August, but he left the series in October.
Filming was expected to begin in March 2023 with plans for a 2024 release, instead the project was officially cancelled by Hulu in March.
The series is currently being shopped around in hopes to find a new producer and distributer.
Who Owns The Rights:
Leonardo DiCaprio was the last to purchase the rights for adaptation.
Who Is Attached:
There is currently no one attached to the project as it searches for a new home.
There are no filming locations with the project stuck in developemnt.
There is currently no estimate for when this series might get made and released.
Previous mentions on AiLL:
This book has not been featured on Alison in Libraryland before.
Other Adaptations From This Author:
None of author Erik Larson’s other works have been adapted to the screen.
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The Devil In The White City Adaptation: Everything We Know So Far About The New Series
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