More than 20 years after the book was released and more than a decade after Leonardo DiCapriosnapped up the film rights, The Devil in the White City will finally get a screen adaptation. The Hululimited series doesn’t yet have an exact release date, but it’s reportedly set for a 2024 debut.
The book tells the tale of the architect of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago — and the serial killer just outside the fair’s gates.
Released in 2003, Erik Larson’s historical nonfiction book The Devil in the White City tells the true story of two men in Chicago at the time of the 1893 World’s Fair.
“Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century,” a synopsis for the book reads. “The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C.”
The synopsis continues: “The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his ‘World’s Fair Hotel’ just west of the fairgrounds — a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.”
The book stayed on the New York Times bestseller lists for most of a decade, ranked as a National Book Award finalist, and won Larson an Edgar Award in the Best Fact Crime category, according to Goodreads.
An adaptation was long in the works, and at one point, Leonardo DiCaprio was going to play the killer.
According to Deadline, Leonardo bought the rights to The Devil in the White City back in 2010. In 2015, he set up the project as a film at Paramount following a bidding war between studios, with Leo playing serial killer H. H. Holmes and his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese on board as director, as Deadline reported at the time.
Now, however, The Devil in the White City is being developed as a limited series, with Leonardo and Martin executive-producing, Keanu playing Burnham, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Hulu is planning to release the series in 2024, Deadline adds. Hulu has been working on developing the book since 2019, and word of Reeve’s possible involvement made headlines this January.
The upcoming TV series — a collaboration between Paramount Television Studios and Disney’s ABC Signature — will be showrun by Sam Shaw, who previously created the Hulu anthology Castle Rock for Hulu. And Todd Field, the filmmaker behind the movies In the Bedroom and Little Children, will serve as director. Sam and Todd are joining Leo and Martin as executive producers, as are Rick Yorn, Jennifer Davisson, Stacey Sher, Lila Byock, and Mark Lafferty.