Sep 09
2021

Some amazing news from Deadline: Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Helen Mirren and Danny DeVito are set to star in “Sniff”, a stylish reinvention of the film noir genre that will be directed by Oscar winner Taylor Hackford. Endeavor Content will launch worldwide sales at TIFF, with CAA Media Finance co-repping U.S. rights. In the Tom Grey-scripted film, two residents die under suspicious circumstances in a high-end luxury retirement community. Retired detective Joe Mulwray (Freeman) is pulled back into the action by his former partner William Keys (DeVito), and they uncover a hidden underworld of sex, drugs and murder in the wealthy community controlled by kingpin Harvey Stride (Pacino), and his femme fatale enforcer, The Spider (Mirren). Sniff is an acronym for Senior Nursing Institute & Family Foundation.

I have always been a big fan of film noir but haven’t really made one, though I did make Against All Odds. That was a remake of Out of the Past, which is one of the best film noirs ever. I didn’t want to make a shot for shot redo of that, but took it as inspiration. Adam and Matt Skiena sent me the script, over the transom to my agent, and I was delighted. First-time screenwriter who has amazing style and conceptually understands what makes film noir stick. The whole concept of setting a film noir in an upscale retirement community … these are proliferating all over the United States as the baby boomer generation gets to retirement. There’s a lot of money, and people want to live in a beautiful setting. Those are on the brochures, but what Tom Grey did was show what was lurking below the surface. I thought it was a brilliant idea and he understood the nature of good noir – the dark story, the incredibly twisted characters – and I thought he had a great handle. Adam and Matt said, ‘It’s yours if you want to run with it.’ I met the writer, Tom Grey, we clicked and worked on it together, him writing and me putting ideas in. When you have something that’s original, I asked him, ‘Who did you have in mind when you wrote it?’ He said Morgan Freeman as the detective at the end of his rope, the main nemesis Al Pacino, the femme fatale Helen Mirren – an actor I know quite well. I said, ‘How about the ex-partner?’ He said Danny DeVito. Well, these are all people I know. I’ve worked with Al, Helen, Danny is a friend, and Morgan I know, and he’s always been looking for something to do with Helen. He’s told me that. I said, ‘I’m going to try and make your dream come true.’ Luckily, what I’d read on the page fit those actors. (Taylor Hackford)

From there, it was not only about making people’s schedules work but form-fitting the roles for the elite cast. Producer Goodman said the goal is for the film to begin production by early next year. “The dream is to have the film available for the fourth quarter of 2022,” he said. “Adult audiences are wildly underserved right now, and it feels like there is a great opportunity here. This film can play broadly but it can be a real event for that community. We really haven’t seen this type of cast since the Ocean’s Eleven movies.”