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CBS Films buys Flynn novels

Di Bonaventura, Wechsler to produce films

In its biggest material acquisition since its inception last year, CBS Films has acquired rights to a bestselling series of espionage novels by Vince Flynn and will build a franchise around its protag, CIA operative Mitch Rapp.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura will team with Nick Wechsler to produce the films.

Sister company Simon & Schuster/Atria Books, which in the fall published the most recent series installment, “Protect and Defend,” has extended its relationship with Flynn by acquiring worldwide publishing rights to his next four novels, including translation and audio.

The deals were made by CBS Films prexy-CEO Amy Baer and Simon & Schuster prexy-CEO Carolyn Reidy and the author’s ICM reps.

Flynn has so far written nine novels, eight about the fictional Rapp, who possesses the ruthlessness and killing skills of Jason Bourne and the sleuthing talents of Jack Ryan.

Flynn began the Rapp novels in 2000 with “Transfer of Power,” in which the agent was assigned to stop Islamic terrorists who took control of the White House. In “Protect and Defend,” Rapp and his longtime boss get ambushed in Iraq, and he becomes a killing machine to rescue his mentor before she is tortured.

The studio and producers haven’t decided yet which novel to use as the basis for the first film. Most involve Rapp defusing a global crisis in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq or the U.S.

“I feel like we have the only postmodern franchise action thriller hero out there … a product of a generation touched by terrorism,” Baer told Daily Variety. “One of my main priorities was to come up with a character-based franchise, and I’m elated to have discovered these books.Lorenzo and Nick have already talked to Vince about the possibility of coming up with original ideas for the films.”

Baer will hire a writer shortly and hopes the first Rapp film will be ready in time to be part of CBS Films’ initial slate. She expects to put films into production by next year.”We can use one of the books as the basis for the first film or get ideas from several of them,” she said.

Di Bonaventura is producing “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers 2,” while Wechsler just finished “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and is producing an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”

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