By Jeff Sneider
November 04, 2019
Back in April 2016, it was announced that Oscar winner Benicio del Toro would star in a film about the Cuban mafia titled The Corporation, based on the nonfiction book by T.J. English. Three years later, sources tell Collider that the project is moving forward, as Tyler Hisel has been hired to write the script for Paramount and Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way banner.
The film will follow the unique, untold story of Jose Miguel Battle Sr., the leader of “The Corporation,” who was known among the Cuban-American community as “El Padrino,” aka “The Godfather.” Battle served as a key operative for Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, bringing him his cut from the gambling casinos when the mafia ran Cuba. Battle escaped to the U.S. where he and his men were trained by the CIA to invade Cuba at the ill-fated Bay of Pigs. Having saved the lives of 28 of his men, the Godfather emerged from that debacle as a hero to many Cuban-Americans. The Corporation started out running a numbers racket before moving on to money laundering and murder. Though Battle and his associates never gave up the dream of bringing down Fidel Castro and reclaiming Cuba, they were ultimately brought down by a detective who pursued them relentlessly for over 15 years.
Del Toro remains attached to play Battle, and DiCaprio is producing with his Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson alongside Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman of The Picture Company, as well as Jaydee Freixas and Tony Gonzalez, the Miami-based rights-holders who maintain unparalleled access to the still-living subjects. Appian Way’s Michael Hampton will oversee the project on behalf of the company.
Vinyl scribe David Matthews was tapped to write the script back in 2016, but sources say Hisel will be starting from scratch and taking the story in a different direction. His recent work includes the USA/UCP series Treadstone, M. Night Shyamalan‘s Fox series Wayward Pines, and Gale Anne Hurd‘s Amazon series Lore. He also wrote the indie film Dark Was the Night, which was voted to the 2009 Black List. Hisel is currently developing another historical thriller at Paramount, which has yet to announce the project. He’s represented by manager-producer Alexander Robb of Insignia Entertainment and attorney Rob Szymanski of Eclipse Law.
The Corporation is hardly the only project that Appian Way is developing at Paramount, as Edward Berger (Patrick Melrose) is slated to direct a film about Volkswagen’s Clean Diesel scandal.