Safe House director Daniel Espinosa has been hired to develop an adaptation of the Tom Rob Smith novel Child 44 for Summit/Lionsgate. The book is based on the true story of Andrei Chikatilo a.k.a. The Rostov Ripper, a Soviet serial killer, also nicknamed The Butcher of Rostov, The Red Ripper. He murdered a minimum of 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990 in the Russian SFSR, and eventually confessed to a total of 56 murders. He was tried for 53 of these killings in April 1992, and in October of 1992 he was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed in February 1994.
This is going to be an incredibly intense serial killer drama. That's one hell of a crazy and sad murdering spree. The movie centers on a character named Leo Demidov, described by Deadline as "a disgraced lawman in Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, who is assigned to investigate a series of gruesome child murders." I'm sure it will make for a solid film.
The book is the first in a trilogy, and it was set up at 20th Century Fox at one point to be directed by Ridley Scott, but obviously that never happened. Even though Scott is not directing it, he's still attached to produce. On top of Safe House, Espinoza also directed Snabba Cash. Both good movies, but Child 44 sounds like a great project for him to take on that could really push his talents.
Here's a description of the book:
"There is no crime."
Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs. One of its fundamental pillars is that its citizens live free from the fear of ordinary crime and criminals.
But in this society, millions do live in fear . . . of the State. Death is a whisper away. The mere suspicion of ideological disloyalty-owning a book from the decadent West, the wrong word at the wrong time-sends millions of innocents into the Gulags or to their executions. Defending the system from its citizens is the MGB, the State Security Force. And no MGB officer is more courageous, conscientious, or idealistic than Leo Demidov.
A war hero with a beautiful wife, Leo lives in relative luxury in Moscow, even providing a decent apartment for his parents. His only ambition has been to serve his country. For this greater good, he has arrested and interrogated.
Then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal-a murderer-is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, his world turned upside down, and every belief he's ever held shattered. The only way to save his life and the lives of his family is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer-much less a serial killer-is in their midst. Exiled from his home, with only his wife, Raisa, remaining at his side, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the MBG to find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.