Anthony Maras to write and direct 1970s true crime thriller

John Collee (L) with Anthony Maras.

Anthony Maras finally has settled on his follow-up to Hotel Mumbai: A 1970s true-crime saga about the spectacular rise and fall of Atlanta porn king Mike Thevis.

Maras will reunite on Peachtree with Jomon Thomas, one of the producers of Hotel Mumbai, who is funding development with S’YA Concept, a development fund with offices in LA, Sydney and Singapore which is dedicated to creating original crossover content with established talent.

Born into a poor Greek family, Thevis built the largest porn network in America from his base in the Deep South. Paradoxically, he also ran multiple legitimate businesses with a nearly all-female executive team.

In 1976 he was convicted of conspiracy to commit arson and distribution of obscene materials and sentenced to eight years in jail.

Two years later he escaped and was placed on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list. In 1980 he was convicted of a double murder and sentenced to 28 years to life. He died in 2013.

It has long been a passion project of Maras, who is the son of Greek migrants and first heard about Thevis from family members who came from the same region of Greece as the Thevis clan.

“The more I learnt about this man and his world, the more obsessed I became,” Maras told Deadline.

“Over the years my team and I unearthed thousands of pages of documents and dozens of eyewitness testimonies. We lodged FOI requests for government case files. We sifted through endless boxes of archives in Atlanta — it was just a treasure trove of riches for a storyteller.”

Thomas said: “After seeing Anthony’s contribution to Hotel Mumbai, backing this project was a no-brainer. As with Mumbai, he’s put together a monumental research dossier, has a deep cultural understanding of the protagonist and his world and an instinctual grasp for these types of true stories.”

The film will likely shoot in Atlanta and Australia, Thomas tells IF.

S’YA Concept was one of the financiers of Hotel Mumbai and Monkey Man, the directing debut of Dev Patel, who stars as a young guy in India who emerges from prison and is caught up in a world of corporate greed and eroding spiritual values.

Hotel Mumbai’s John Collee co-wrote the thriller produced by Thomas and Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk.