Muse buys 2 Thompson tomes

Rookie indie production outfit Muse Prods. has optioned two novels from the Jim Thompson estate for around $ 800,000, including backends “The Killer Inside Me” and “Savage Night.”

Maryann Kelly from the Gersh Agency negotiated the sale of the books. The rights to “Killer” were previously owned by WB for over a decade.

Muse, founded in 1991 by former rock video exec Chris Hanley, bankrolled the Rutger Hauer sci-fi actioner “Split Second” and reaped a video profit despite meager domestic B.O.

Bolstered by a hefty, but unquoted, bankroll from a consortium of Swiss banking investors, the company said it is now ready to make higher-profile pix starting in the $ 10 million range.

Production prexy Alan Liebert added that Muse will be able to make its own pay-or-play deals with talent, guaranteeing as much as $ 1 million per deal, but will work with both studios and other indies on a project-to-project basis.

Muse is involved with producer Ed Pressman on several projects, including the development of an untitled project with “Body Snatchers” helmer Abel Ferrara. Three or four projects are being readied for the Muse slate.

“Killer” is about a seemingly dimwitted deputy sheriff in a two-horse Texas burg who struggles with the violent rage inside him that once put him away in a sanatorium. When the lawman goes on a killing spree, it is up to the townspeople to stop him.

“Savage” tells the story of a reluctant hit man who moves in with a family, one of whose members is earmarked for his gun, but instead falls in love with a female friend of the household.

Though both properties are unattached, Muse is sending them out to talent, hoping to get cameras rolling on either within 18 months.

In the 1980s, Hanley ran a successful Gotham recording studio that hosted several underground acts like the Ramones before graduating to names like Billy Idol.

Liebert worked as a production exec for producers Michael Gruskoff and Michael Levy after holding spots at Vecchio Entertainment and Joel Gotler Agency , where he was a lit agent. Senior VP of business affairs Anthony Cresswell rounds out the Muse exec team.

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