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Scarlett Johansson to star in Rub & Tug, a massage parlor mob-related drama

07.02.2018

According to Deadline, New Regency has massaged the rights to RUB & TUG away from those competing for the Rupert Sanders-directed drama starring Scarlett Johansson. Based on a true story, the film will tell the tale of a woman (Johansson) making game-changing moves in the male-dominated business of massage parlors and prostitution.

As the story goes, Jean Marie Gill became a major player in the massage game by taking on the physical identity of a man, more or less. To rise above the competition, Gill went up against the mob and became the crime kingpin (queenpin?) of 1970s Pittsburgh through her empire of illicit massage parlors and an anabolic steroids racket that helped fuel the Pittsburgh Steelers’ NFL dynasty. It was during this time that Gill cross-dressed as a male entrepreneur, while relying on her allies in the gay community to help grow her empire. At the core of the story is Jean's romance with her girlfriend Cynthia. Together, the two defied odds and expectations unlike the top-level street toughs of Pittsburgh had ever encountered.

Penning the script for RUB & TUG will be Gary Spinelli, who will also produce alongside Joel Silver, Tobey Maguire, Johansson, Matthew Plouffe, Spinelli, and Jonathan Lia. Silver Pictures president Hal Sadoff will also book an appointment for the pic as an executive produce with Ethan Erwin, Sarah Meyer, Richard Weinberg, and Brendan Koerner. The film is a co-production between Silver Pictures, Maguire’s Material Pictures, and Johansson’s These Pictures.

The RUB & TUG project has been floating around for the past year, with Hollywood heavyweights the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Paul Greengrass, and David O. Russell all circling the project at some point or another. However, now that Sanders and Johansson, who teamed for 2017's GHOST IN THE SHELL,  have booked an appointment with New Regency, the film is ready to gets hands on, so to speak.

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