‘Mudbound’ Co-Writer Virgil Williams to Adapt ‘Blacktop Wasteland’ for Picturestart, John Legend’s Get Lifted (EXCLUSIVE)

Matt Donnelly
·3-min read

Erik Feig’s Picturestart and Mike Jackson and John Legend’s production company Get Lifted Film Co. are teaming to bring the critically acclaimed S.A. Cosby novel “Blacktop Wasteland” to the big screen.

The former Lionsgate film honcho and the EGOT-chasing Legend have tapped “Mudbound” co-screenwriter Virgil Williams. who was nominated for an Academy Award for the Netflix original film, to adapt the heist drama.

Jessica Switch and Royce Reeves-Darby are overseeing for Picturestart, with MacKenzie Marlowe for Get Lifted Film Co., and Ty Stiklorius serving as executive producer.

“Blacktop” follows Beauregard “Bug” Montage, a hardworking family man in the American South, who happens to be a most skilled driver for people up to no good. As Bug tries to go legit, the pangs of the straight-and-narrow weigh on him — a rival auto business lures his customers away, his daughter eyes a fancy college, his wife eager to upgrade from their mobile home. When a slick-talking former associate comes along with a diamond heist, he has no choice but to take the job — until he finds himself double-crossed, betrayed and hunted.

“We instantly just saw ‘Blacktop Wasteland’ as a new, but classic, movie from the first moment Royce mentioned it. We’ve wanted to work with Virgil for years and know that with him and the team at Get Lifted Film Co. we have the opportunity to develop the main character Bug into every bit that archetypical movie star — one with a fast car and an emotionally complex backstory — that speeds into the zeitgeist as if he has always been there,” said Feig.

Jackson said the book is one of the best crime/thriller novels I’ve read in a long time,” and his team was thrilled to bring the story to life.

“S.A. Cosby’s book is a high octane read with a rare combination of adrenaline and emotion that will make an incredible movie. I’m so grateful to Mike, John, Erik and the whole Picturestart team for trusting me to adapt it. I can’t wait to get to work,” added Williams.

Williams most recently wrote “A Journal For Jordan,” the Denzel Washington-directed film starring Michael B. Jordan, which is currently in pre-production at Columbia Pictures. He is also writing the update of “Rashomon” with Billy Ray, set at HBO Max with Amblin Television. Williams is represented by Craig Brody at Map Point and John Meigs at Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman L.L.P.

Cosby’s work includes “Slant-Six,” that was selected as a Distinguished Story in Best American Mystery Stories for 2016, and “The Grass Beneath My Feet,” which won the Anthony award for best short story in 2019. Cosby is represented by Lucy Stille of Lucy Stille Literary, who brokered the deal on behalf of Josh Getzler at HG Literary.

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