James Packer’s Hollywood production company has won a bidding war for the movie rights to the story behind Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig’s dramatic escape from Cuba to the US.
Packer will executive produce the film.
The deal is the latest win for the Australian casino mogul, who has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most powerful players after teaming with filmmaker Brett Ratner to form production company RatPac Entertainment.
Puig, who played for the Dodgers in the team’s recent Sydney games, has become one of baseball’s highest-profile stars, with his big bat electrifying crowds but off-the-field antics causing unwanted headlines.
Puig’s dramatic defection from his home in Cuba to the US, detailed in a recent Los Angeles magazine article by journalist Jesse Katz titled Escape From Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey to the Dodgers, was pounced on by Hollywood producers.
It was RatPac which secured the rights.
The story follows Puig, accompanied by “a boxer, a pinup girl and a Santeria priest”, as he escapes his home with the assistance of Mexican drug cartels but is held captive for three weeks when the agreed $US250,000 ($A270,000) fee isn’t paid.
As is often necessary in Hollywood, the story has a happy ending.
Puig went on to sign a seven-year, $US42 million deal with the Dodgers in 2012.
Packer’s Hollywood venture has also been a success, with RatPac’s first investment, the space adventure film Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, earning $US716 million in worldwide box office receipts and scoring seven Oscar wins.
RatPac has also signed a deal to fund films by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B.