Mandalay, FilmColony pic based on Cook novel

Marking the first project under their new producing pact, Mandalay Pictures and FilmColony will bring Troy Cook’s comic crime novel “47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers” to the bigscreen.

It’s the latest script deal for blind author/journalist Ryan Knighton, who is also adapting comedian Glenn Rockowitz’s humor-filled cancer memoir “Rodeo in Joliet” for producers Anne Carey and Epoch Films. Knighton’s self-adapted memoir about losing his sight, “Cockeyed,” is set to be directed by Jodie Foster.

FilmColony’s Richard Gladstein and Mandalay’s Cathy Schulman will produce “47 Rules.” The Capital Crime Press book follows two lovers on a bank robbing spree across the South as they run from their families, the law and an outrageous ensemble of underworld characters. Former FilmColony executive Neil Parris will co-produce.

Gladstein plans to shop “47 Rules” to Universal under Mandalay’s first-look deal with the studio. He said it’s an ideal project to start Mandalay and FilmColony’s newly launched two-year pact, in which Mandalay provides development money for select FilmColony projects they can jointly produce.

“It was one of the first things I gave (Mandalay partners Schulman and Peter Guber) to read,” he said. “All it needed was the help of being able to finance and develop the script.”

After reading the “Cockeyed” script, developed through a fellowship at the 2008 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Gladstein knew Knighton had the right voice for this “True Romance”-style comic caper. “The thing about ‘Cockeyed,’ which has something to do with (“47 Rules”) is, while there are serious stakes to it, there’s a level of humor and irony that’s so fresh and exciting,” he said.

Mandalay and FilmColony are exploring other collaborations, which may eventually include Gladstein’s long-gestating adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s trippy tome “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” with director Gus Van Sant.

It’s also a busy time for Knighton, currently in Egypt and working on a travel book, “Nothing to See Here.” He just finished a first draft of the “Joliet” script for Carey (“The American”) and Epoch (“Junebug”) under the producers’ new partnership deal. Prior to that, Knighton finessed the “Cockeyed” script with Foster, who is attached to direct it after completing work on Roman Polanski’s “Carnage” later this year.

Mandalay’s 2011 slate includes the biopic “Soul Surfer,” the Rachel Weisz-toplined drama “The Whistleblower” and the religion satire “Salvation Boulevard.”

The Oscar-nominated Gladstein produced “The Cider House Rules,” “Finding Neverland,” “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” and “The Nanny Diaries,” among other projects.

Knighton has written for the New York Times, Esquire and Outside Magazine. He is repped by Hotchkiss and Associates.

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