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Heat 2 in the Works at Warner Bros. With Adam Driver Playing Younger Version of Robert De Niro’s Character

For Warner Bros. bosses Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy, the action is the juice, which is why the studio is negotiating a deal for Michael Mann‘s Heat 2, which will see Adam Driver step into Robert De Niro‘s shoes, which to me seems like a no-win situation for an actor if there ever was one.

Heat 2 is based on the bestselling crime novel that Mann co-wrote with Meg Gardiner, and it’s a half-prequel/half-sequel to the classic 1995 movie, one that follows the criminal misadventures of young Neil McCauley and his loyal pal Chris Shiherlis as well as what happens to Chris as he goes on the run after the bank robbery in the 1995 movie. At the same time, we see young Vincent Hanna make a name for himself within the Chicago police department while in hot pursuit of the perpetrators behind a series of violent home invasions, as well as an older, wiser, more experienced Vincent as he hunts Chris.

Deadline broke the news, passing along the current rumor that Austin Butler is being eyed to play the latter role, which was originated by Val Kilmer, though the trade cautions how that’s far from official, especially with Butler signing on to star in another crime film on the exact same day — City on Fire, based on the excellent novel by Don Winslow.

The other rumor floating around out there has Ana de Armas playing Driver’s love interest, though again, there’s nothing official on that front either. It’s also unclear whether Al Pacino would reprise his role as Vincent in the present-day timeline, and whether 44-year-old Oscar Isaac is a tad too old for the role of young Vincent. If so, let the Timothée Chalamet rumors begin!

Ferrari movie
Adam Driver in Ferrari/STXfilms

Driver certainly has the brooding intensity and commanding gravitas that could pass for a young De Niro, to be sure, but this assignment is still a lot to ask of any actor. But he helped Mann get his Ferrari movie made, and the director appears ready to reward him. It’s kind of wild that Ferrari is still seeking distribution, but then again, it’s rumored to have cost $90 million, which is expensive for an indie movie. If its big price tag is causing the delay, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Warner Bros. — or perhaps even HBO — pick it up as the cherry on top of this deal. After all, Driver is a homegrown talent who got his start on HBO’s Girls.

As of now, Warner Bros. is financing the development of Heat 2, though it will give New Regency, which co-financed the original movie, the chance to co-finance this new project should it move forward. However, as of right now, Mann is the one driving the cart and reaching out to actors.

The director has long wanted to continue telling stories in the Heat universe, as even though the film was overlooked by the Academy, it grossed nearly $200 million worldwide and has had incredible staying power over the past three decades as younger generations discover the film for themselves.

This is ultimately a smart bet from Warner Bros. and I wouldn’t be shocked if this led Martin Scorsese to pitch the studio on, if not a follow-up of some kind to The Departed, then perhaps a prequel of sorts. That’s the kind of project that could be done for a reasonable price and perform quite well, though let’s see how Heat 2 does first.

After all, that’s the one that’s just around the corner.



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