Universal nabs Silva spy novels

Studio sets Morel to direct 'Messenger'

Universal Pictures has paid a seven-figure sum to acquire rights to a seven-book series of bestselling spy novels by Daniel Silva. Studio is eyeing the 2006 thriller “The Messenger” as a possible first film, and has set Pierre Morel to direct.

Mark Gordon and Josh McLaughlin are producing through the Mark Gordon Co.

The Silva series began in 2000 with “The Kill Artist,” and revolves around Gabriel Allon. A Mossad agent who was part of the covert team that avenged the murder of Israeli athletes at Munich Olympics, Allon retired and became an art restorer after his wife and child were killed by a terrorist.

“The Messenger” is the sixth book in the series.

Morel is the veteran cinematographer and frequent Luc Besson collaborator. He made his mark as an action director in 2004 with the futuristic French spy thriller “Banlieue 13.” Morel just completed directing “Taken,” a thriller that stars Liam Neeson as a former spy who dusts off his old skills when his daughter is kidnapped and sold into the slave trade.

Gordon, who produced the Roland Emmerich-directed “10,000 B.C.” with Michael Wimer for Warner Bros., brought a potential spy franchise to U just as the studio releases the third and possibly final installment of the Bourne franchise with “The Bourne Ultimatum.”

Silva’s latest novel in the series, “The Secret Servant,” was published last month by Putnam. ICM repped the author and director.

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