Legendary Pictures Locks Jim Mickle to Direct Wildfire Movie ESPERANZA

     January 6, 2015


It’s about time Jim Mickle scored a sizable project.  Mickle made a name for himself churning out ultra low budget features like Mulberry Street and Stake Land, and then went on to deliver We Are What We Are and Cold in July, both of which earned high praise at Cannes and Sundance.  Now Legendary Pictures is tapping Mickle’s talent for Esperanza, a script penned by Sean O’Keefe based on the John N. Maclean book, The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57, a piece covering the true story of the arson-sparked wildfire that claimed five lives in 2006.

Hit the jump for more on Esperanza and Mickle’s body of work.

esperanza-book-coverSadly I missed out on Cold in July, but after seeing Mulberry Street, Stake Land and We Are What We Are, I would have been thrilled for Mickle no matter what project landed in his lab.  Obviously the Legendary press release doesn’t disclose the budget of the film, but, odds are, it’s much bigger than any other film he’s made and Mickle deserves it.

Similar to Gareth Edwards who went on to direct Godzilla for Legendary, Mickle’s got a knack for doing a lot with very little.  He brought rat zombies to life in Mulberry Street and created a rather expansive vampire apocalypse in Stake Land on a shoestring budget, but it’s the disturbing character study, We Are What We Are, that’ll eat away at you the most. (No pun intended.)  Clearly this guy is going places so I highly recommend catching up on his work.

Here’s the official synopsis for Esperanza:

Set against the backdrop of one of the most fire-prone areas in the world, ESPERANZA is the true story of a Spartan culture of firefighters battling the ‘perfect storm’ of wildfires.

And if you’d like some addition details, here’s the synopsis of Maclean’s book, The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57:

When a jury returns to a packed courtroom to announce its verdict in a capital murder case every noise, even a scraped chair or an opening door, resonates like a high-tension cable snap. Spectators stop rustling in their seats; prosecution and defense lawyers and the accused stiffen into attitudes of wariness; and the judge looks on owlishly. In that atmosphere of heightened expectation the jury entered a Riverside County Superior Court room in southern California to render a decision in the trial of Raymond Oyler, charged with murder for setting the Esperanza Fire of 2006, which killed a five man Forest Service engine crew sent to fight the blaze.

Today, wildland fire is everybody’s business, from the White House to the fireground. Wildfires have grown bigger, more intense, more destructive—and more expensive. Federal taxpayers, for example, footed most of the $16 million bill for fighting the Esperanza Fire. But the highest cost was the lives of the five-man crew of Engine 57, the first wildland engine crew ever to be wiped out by flames.

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