‘Empire Rising’ Could See Guy Ritchie Bringing Danger and Romance to 1930s New York


Even though director Guy Ritchie is still currently hard at work prepping The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to get ready to go in front of cameras, we might already know what he’s going to be working on after that project wraps. THR is reporting that Warner Bros. has just picked up the rights to a novel from author Thomas Kelly called “Empire Rising,” and they’re looking to develop it as a possible directing vehicle for Ritchie.

The studio must still really like what Ritchie did with their Sherlock Holmes property, because Empire Rising is another period production that would this time see Ritchie giving us his version of 1930 New York, as Kelly’s story is one that uses the construction of the Empire State Building as a backdrop.

This isn’t a simple tale of lunch pales and hard hats though. Despite the fact that the construction of one of Manhattan’s most iconic buildings is central to the story this film will tell, it turns out it also contains a tangled web of human drama that’s probably going to be even more interesting than any onscreen recreations of old-timey New York.

Amazon’s description for Kelly’s book describes the story by saying, “It is 1930, and ground has just been broken for the Empire State Building. One of the thousands of men who will come to work high above the city is Michael Briody, an Irish immigrant torn between his desire to make a new life in America and his pledge to gather money and arms for the Irish republican cause. When he meets Grace Masterson, an alluring artist who is depicting the great skyscraper’s rise from her houseboat on the East River, Briody’s life suddenly turns exhilarating—and dangerous—for Grace is also a paramour of Johnny Farrell, Mayor Jimmy Walker’s liaison with Tammany Hall and the underworld.”

From plucky immigrants, to sexy artists, to dangerous gangsters, to powerful mayors, this story seems like it has it all. Should Ritchie end up signing on for the film officially, he and his casting people should have a great time finding the right actors to comprise such an eclectic ensemble. And hopefully we’ll all have a good time watching them interact up on the big screen too. This one is still definitely way too early in its development for us to be counting chickens though, so it would probably be best if we just moved along before we start getting caught up in any fantasy castings.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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