In 2004, a group of four men executed a brazen plot to swipe museum-quality books from the Transylvania University library in broad daylight. Now a movie about the heist is headed to the big screen, and people can buy chances to be at the New York City premiere alongside the stars to benefit the very library that was robbed.
"American Animals" is a feature-length film based on the story of Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Eric Borsuk and Charles Allen II, who all pleaded guilty to robbing the Transy library. The movie had its debut at Sundance and, as of Wednesday, had an 80 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 16 "fresh" reviews and four "rotten."
The roles of the four admitted robbers are being played by actors Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner and Jared Abrahamson. Peters is known for his roles in the anthology series "American Horror Story" and Keoghan has had movie roles in "Dunkirk" and "The Killing of a Sacred Deer."
As part of an Omaze campaign, someone will attend the upcoming premiere, meet the stars, walk the red carpet and see the film in New York City. Omaze allows people to donate to charities for chances to win "experiences" like trips to premieres, visits to television sets and meals with stars.
In this case, donations to the Omaze campaign will benefit the Special Collections department of Transy's library. The money will "help this institution to continue to provide students with the unique opportunity to use primary source materials and to study the important books of Western culture," according to the campaign's web page.
The four men who committed the robbery make occasional appearances in the movie, commenting on the action as portrayed by the actors, according to a recent Variety review by Guy Lodge.
In the course of the real-life robbery, a librarian was tied up and incapacitated with a stun gun. The group then tried to sell the stolen books at Christie's auction house in New York City.
The men were caught after workers at Christie's became suspicious. Each was sentenced to seven years in prison.
This not the first re-telling of the headline-grabbing heist. In 2010, Allen released a book on the ordeal called "Mr. Pink" under the name Chas Allen.