Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling have come on board police drama “The Nice Guys” with “Iron Man 3″ director Shane Black helming, Variety said.
Warner Bros. has acquired North American rights to the project, which is being produced by Joel Silver. “Nice Guys” re-teams the studio with Black and Silver, both who rose to prominence nearly three decades ago via the “Lethal Weapon” franchise — followed by Silver’s public split with Warners two years ago.
The script, co-written by Black with Anthony Bagarozzi, is set in Los Angeles during the 1970s and centered on a pair of detectives investigating the seeming suicide of a female porn star whose career was on the decline — leading to the uncovering of a criminal conspiracy.
The script has been in development for several years. In 2011, the Austin Film Festival held a staged reading, with Black directing, and offered this logline:
“In smoggy 1970s Los Angeles, Jackson Healy (muscle-for-hire, recovering alcoholic) and Holland March (private eye, practicing alcoholic) are brought together by the suicide of a fading porn star. Problem is, the dead girl’s aunt is convinced she saw her niece alive and well, AFTER the highly publicized incident. March needs money, takes the case-and within days, it’s blossomed into a far-reaching murder conspiracy, bizarrely rooted in smog and the U.S. auto industry.”
Black wrote the script for the first “Lethal Weapon,” starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a pair of LAPD detectives in what became a lucrative four-film franchise. He made his directorial debut on 2005′s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” starring Robert Downey Jr., which Silver produced for Warner Bros.
“The Nice Guys” deal comes two years after Silver and Warner Bros. ended their 25-year producing relationship, which had also encompassed “The Matrix” trilogy, the “Sherlock Holmes” movies, “V for Vendetta” and “Speed Racer.” The relationship became increasingly polarized in the latter years with Warner execs upset over Silver’s spending while the producer complained over how the studio handled his films.
Silver signed a distribution deal with Universal in 2012 after leaving Warner Bros. and produced Liam Neeson’s “Non-Stop” earlier this year.
Gosling was seen last year in “Gangster Squad,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” and “Only God Forgives” and made his directorial debut on “Lost River.”
Crowe was last seen in “Noah” and is in post-production on his directorial debut on historical drama “The Water Diviner.”
Black came on board last month to direct Fox’s reboot of “Predator” from a script he’s co-writing with Fred Dekker.
News about Crowe and Gosling considering the project was first reported by The Wrap site.