Studio acquires rights to Preston book

VENICE — Tom Cruise and United Artists have acquired rights to serial-killer thriller “The Monster of Florence,” with Cruise attached to produce and possibly to star, according to Douglas Preston, author of the bestseller.

Preston and Italo journo Mario Spezi told Corriere della Sera they have inked with UA for a big-screen adaptation of their reconstruction of eight grisly double homicides believed to have been committed single-handedly between 1968 and 1985 in and around the Italian Renaissance gem.

“It’s the biggest movie deal in my life,” the leading Italo daily quoted Preston as saying in a front page story. Previous Preston tomes made into movies include thriller “The Relic.”

“The film will have Florence and the Chianti as protagonists: two of the locations most beloved by Americans,” said Spezi, a Florentine crime reporter and “Monster” contributor, to Corriere.

Reps for United Artists could not immediately be reached for comment.

Spezi said the script will be penned by Chris McQuarrie (“Valkyrie”) and that Cruise will produce and decide whether he wants to star once he reads it.

The “Monster of Florence” case had previously inspired the Thomas Harris sequel “Hannibal.”

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