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A Hollywood movie about the Boston Strangler will begin filming in Boston in December

Keira Knightley will play journalist Loretta McLaughlin in "Boston Strangler," a movie about infamous 1960s serial killer Albert DeSalvo (right).Mike Coppola/Getty Images; Jack O'Connell/Globe Staff

A new movie about the Boston Strangler is set to begin filming in the area later this year, adding another chapter to the Boston crime movie canon.

20th Century Studios will begin filming “Boston Strangler” in the Boston area in December, with scenes to be shot both in Boston proper and nearby towns, according to a source familiar with the production.

“Boston Strangler” will tell the story of Loretta McLaughlin, a reporter who first connected the dots between a series of murders in Boston in the 1960s while working at the Boston Record American, according to the source.

McLaughlin, who later became the editorial page editor at The Boston Globe, wrote a four-part series about the murders along with fellow Record American reporter Jean Cole that first gave the killer the “Boston Strangler” moniker.


Cole and McLaughlin’s reporting helped to generate public interest in the murders, with authorities eventually identifying 13 women murdered between 1962 and 1964 as victims of the Strangler. In 1967, Albert DeSalvo — who confessed to being the Boston Strangler — was sentenced to life in prison, and was later killed by a fellow inmate in 1973.

Keira Knightley (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) will play McLaughlin, while Matt Ruskin (“Crown Heights”) will direct.

Using the Record American reporters as the main characters of “Boston Strangler” is reminiscent of “Zodiac,” the 2007 David Fincher movie that followed the journey of two San Francisco Chronicle reporters (Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal) as they attempted to identify the “Zodiac Killer” terrorizing the Bay Area in the 1960s.

“Boston Strangler” will become at least the fourth movie about the infamous murders. The most notable of them, released in 1968, starred Tony Curtis (“Some Like It Hot”) as DeSalvo, and also featured Henry Fonda (“On Golden Pond”) and George Kennedy (“Cool Hand Luke”).

“Boston Strangler” will likely begin filming during a relatively quiet time in the local film industry after one of the busiest periods in recent memory. Films currently in production that will have wrapped up or be close to finishing when “Strangler” begins shooting include “Spirited,” a movie musical starring Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, and Octavia Spencer; “Salem’s Lot,” an adaptation of the Stephen King novel starring Alfre Woodard (“12 Years A Slave”), Bill Camp (“Joker”), Spencer Treat Clark (“Animal Kingdom”), and Pilou Asbæk (“Game of Thrones”); and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” a Whitney Houston biopic starring Naomi Ackie (“Star Wars”), Ashton Sanders (“Moonlight”), Clarke Peters (“The Wire”), and Stanley Tucci (“Spotlight”).