Ridley Scott to direct ‘The Cartel,’ based on ‘El Chapo'-inspired novel by Don Winslow

Don Winslow

Crime novelist and screenwriter Don Winslow photographed at his home in Julian in San Diego County on June 13.

(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Don Winslow’s novel “The Cartel” has been drawing attention not just for its glowing reviews, but from an odd coincidence -- the book was partially inspired by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the drug lord who escaped from a Mexican prison earlier this month.

The Fox movie studio took notice. Winslow’s novel will be adapted into a film to be directed by Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “Black Hawk Down”), according to the Hollywood Reporter. Deadline reports that Leonardo DiCaprio is being considered for a starring role in the movie.

Scott and Michael Schaefer will produce “The Cartel,” which will be written for the screen by Shane Salerno, who cowrote the screenplay for the 1998 hit “Armageddon.” Salerno and Winslow cowrote the script for “Savages,” based on Winslow’s 2010 novel.

“The Cartel” is a follow-up to Winslow’s 2005 novel “The Power of the Dog,” and Winslow almost didn’t write it. In an interview with The Times, the San Diego County author said Salerno convinced him to write the sequel.


“After I was done [with “The Power of the Dog”] my wife was relieved,” Winslow said. “I was obsessed, and not with puppies or sailing but with mass murders. And when you finish writing a book like that you think, ‘I’ve written the worst of the worst. We’re throwing kids off of bridges. We’re massacring families with machine guns. How much worse can it get?’”

Publicity from the movie deal and the El Chapo escape seems to have helped the book hold on to its bestseller status (it’s currently No. 4 on the Times hardcover fiction list). The novel is ranked No. 123 at Amazon, where it’s garnered an average of 4½ stars (out of five) from readers.


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