Writer Matt Rager (As I Lay Dying) adapted the feature screenplay based on the novel. Principal photography on the film will commence in March.
The movie continues Franco's fascination with Steinbeck; the actor-turned-filmmaker recently made his Broadway debut with a revival of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
The original novel portrays the struggle between labor and capital in 1930s America as close to all-out warfare. Published in 1936, "In Dubious Battle" is considered Steinbeck's first major work. Set in a fictionalized valley in California, the story explores themes Steinbeck later continued to develop: group behavior, social injustice, man's inhumanity to man. A labor conflict between migrant apple pickers and the local growers' association is the backdrop against which Jim Nolan (Franco) becomes involved in the labor movement and rapidly matures as he learns what it means to do organizational fieldwork.
AMBI Distribution will co-represent the film's domestic rights with CAA.
"I am very inspired by James' work and cannot wait to collaborate with him on this project with these remarkable artists," said AMBI's Andrea Iervolino. "This film will be stunning portrait of strife and violence, and bringing it to life with such a remarkably talented cast fortifies our belief that we are creating a classic."
The CAA-repped Franco continues to fill his slate with diverse material including "I Am Michael," which he also directed and bowed at Sundance this past week.
Principal photography on the film will start in March.
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