After a heated auction, Sony Pictures Entertainment paid seven figures for “The Historian,” Elizabeth Kostova’s upcoming first novel. Red Wagon partners Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher will produce.
The novel, to be published on June 14, mixes history and mythology to re-create the world of Dracula and vampires.
A decade in the works, the adventure tale centers around a young woman who searches Europe for her missing father, who took on the challenge of locating the grave of Vlad the Impaler (the bloodthirsty feudal lord who inspired Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”). Along the way, she comes across a slew of bloodsuckers who try to stop her.
The auction drew surprising heat last week, some of it sparked by stellar reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, the rest by unfounded rumors that some major directors wanted the book.
Sylvie Rabineau, who closed the deal late Friday, had let buyers see the manuscript eight months ago, when Little, Brown made an ambitious publishing deal. It was then an 857-page manuscript, the heft of which chilled studio execs.
“It is a challenging adaptation, a huge canvas, and it just didn’t feel right then, putting studios in a position to instantly decide what the movie was, and try and attach their favorite directors or screenwriters,” Rabineau said. “I took it off the market then, knowing it would be a big publishing event. With the glowing reviews, and a huge pre-order by Little, Brown, the stars aligned.”
Red Wagon exec Tia Maggini brought in the book early on, and Wick and Fisher waited to strike.
“All of Hollywood has been focused on horror, and we remembered during that last cycle of genre exploitation what a wonderful meal ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was, a supernatural tale so carefully crafted that its believable premise troubles you long after you left the theater,” Wick said. “(Kostova) makes the vampire legend feel plausible.”
Columbia execs Matt Tolmach and Sam Dickerman will oversee the project.