Ruben Fleischer is currently coasting on a great deal of goodwill from his freshman film, Zombieland and it’s allowed him to be on the top of many directors lists at the studios. Even as he’s been working on his next film, 30 Minutes or Less (for which we’ll have a set visit report one of these days), he’s been tossed around on lists for various projects and finally one has stuck. Deadline has Fleischer and Warner Brothers as having “begun negotiations” for the director to take over their Gangster Squad project, which would take him out of the comedy arena into the LA mob-busting world of films such as De Palma’s The Untouchables.

The story will be another exploration of that golden age of LA’s elite cops going head to head with increasingly powerful East Coast mob figures moving into new territories in the west. This particular story will draw from a series of articles by Pual Lieberman that you can find here. This excerpt is from the first piece…

“The deal was: If they signed on, they’d continue to be listed on the rosters of their old stations. They’d have no office, only two unmarked cars. They’d almost never make arrests. They’d simply gather “intelligence” and be available for other chores. In effect, they would not exist.”

It’s like Men In Black except the “scum of the universe” were the likes of Jack Dragna, Bugsy Siegel, and Mickey Cohen.

This is a project that Warner Brothers has shopped around to all of their darlings (Ben Affleck and Aronofsky are specifically mentioned) so it’s a project the studio is hot on. There’s a ton of fun to be had in this era, and everyone from Mark Wahlberg to Oren Moverman are involved in projects tackling different periods of LA crime-busting. It’s also a nice next step for Fleischer who, when asked about some of the big superhero projects he turned down, has mentioned that he wants to escalate the scale of his projects at a reasonable pace- a wise move. Gangster Squad could be a good way of him moving into more serious territory, yet with a subject that still allows him to be dynamic.