DEADLINE – Zac Efron will star in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, director Joe Berlinger’s psychological thriller about serial killer Ted Bundy that is set up for Cannes by Voltage Pictures and Michael Costigan’s COTA Films. Michael Werwie (Lost Girls, Massive) wrote the script, which got him a Nicholl Fellowship prize and made the 2012 Black List.
This comes as Efron stars this summer with Dwayne Johnson in Paramount’s Baywatch and at Christmas opposite Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams in Fox pic The Greatest Showman. Berlinger is best known for co-directing with the late Bruce Sinofsky the Paradise Lost documentaries that eventually freed the West Memphis 3 from a wrongful murder conviction, and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. Berlinger and Efron will start production October 9. Voltage will fully finance and handle international sales. CAA and UTA Independent Film Group represent the domestic rights.
Nicolas Chartier and Ara Keshishian will be producing for Voltage alongside Costigan for COTA Films, and Efron’s Ninjas Runnin’ Wild banner will produce alongside Michael Simkin and Jason Barrett. Werwie and Jonathan Deckter will be executive producing.
“I have been trying to work with Zac Efron for a long time,” said Chartier. “From his dramatic turn in Paperboy to his hilarious performance in Neighbors, he continues to impress audiences and critics alike with his extraordinary versatility and range.”
Costigan hailed the script and Berlinger’s past documentaries in predicting the mix will be strong. “Zac is perfect casting, as he can play both the depth and the charm that this guy had in equal measures, and which allowed him to manipulate these women in such a terrifying way. We think in the vein of Nightcrawler or even The Jinx, we are making a psychological thriller that will resonate deeply with audiences.”
Voltage Pictures’ Ara Keshishian negotiated the deal with CAA, UTA and Chris Tricarico on behalf of COTA. Efron is repped by CAA, Alchemy Entertainment, and attorneys Patti Felker and Eric Suddleson; Berlinger is repped by CAA and Lighthouse Management. Werwie is repped by UTA and managers Brad Kaplan and Stephen Gates.