Hotel Mumbai director Anthony Maras has signed on to write and direct Peachtree, a 1970s-based true crime saga revolving around the spectacular rise and fall of Atlanta porn king, Mike Thevis.
Thevis was born into a poor Greek immigrant family and went on to build the largest pornography network in America. Known as a man of stark contradictions, by the 1970s Thevis had created a sprawling pornographic empire from his base in the otherwise puritanical Deep South, while simultaneously running a plethora of legitimate businesses with a nearly all-female executive team.
Craving respectability, he sunk millions into the arts, music, movies and charities but ultimately was bought down in a noxious web of murder, blackmail, arson and extortion. The film has reportedly been Maras’ passion project for years. He put it on hold to direct Hotel Mumbai, which was itself based on another heavily researched true story.
Maras himself 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. He said of the project:
“The more I learnt about this man and his world, the more obsessed I became. 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”.
Hotel Mumbai producer and principal equity financiers Jomon Thomas and S’YA Concept signed on to fully fund development based on an expansive research dossier and treatment written by Maras.
“After seeing Anthony’s contribution to Hotel Mumbai, backing this project was a no-brainer”, Thomas said in a statement. “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”.
Peachtree certainly sounds like it warrants a feature film. True crime is hot right now, and the interesting mix of a pornographic empire springing up during the 70s in the Deep South sounds like a fascinating story worth telling.