Studio nabs worldwide distribution rights to thriller

Lionsgate has acquired worldwide distribution rights for an untitled action-thriller that will be the next film directed by Stephen Gaghan, the Oscar-winning “Traffic” scribe who last wrote and directed “Syriana.”

Gaghan is writing the script with Shannon Burke and will produce. Allyn Stewart and Kipp Nelson will be executive producers. Production is to begin next spring.

The protagonist is an elite deep- cover operative whose attempt to take down a global organization costs him everything. He resurfaces as a beat cop in Brooklyn, only to discover the bad guys he was fighting are also operating in his new back yard.

The acquisition was made by Lionsgate co-chief operating officer and motion picture group prexy Joe Drake and Alli Shearmur, Lionsgate president of motion picture production. Senior veep Wolfgang Hammer brought in the project and will supervise with Shearmur.

Shearmur called Gaghan “a master storyteller who has raised the bar for character-driven suspense in contemporary film.”

She said the scribe has earned the right to have greater control over the creative content of his films along with a participation in their commercial success.

Gaghan is repped by WME and attorney Steve Warren.

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