Paramount nabs ‘Steal’

'Transformers's' Kurtzman, Orci to produce pic

Marking the first major acquisition for newly appointed Paramount Film Group prexy Adam Goodman, the studio has paid seven figures upfront for action-comedy pitch “License to Steal.”

Shane Salerno will pen the script. Project is loosely based on Marc Weingarten’s Salon.com article about the high-end repo business, in which agents travel all the world to reclaim play toys including private jets and speedboats.

Par teamed on the purchase with Skydance Prods., David Ellison’s production and financing company. Skydance is in discussions to possibly co-finance the picture.

Writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are producing “License to Steal.” Sale of the pitch came just as Orci and Kurtzman celebrated the blockbuster opening of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which they penned with Ehren Kruger.

Kurtzman and Orci also penned this summer’s “Star Trek,” from Paramount, as well as exec produced Disney’s romantic comedy “The Proposal,” which placed No. 2 behind “Transformers” at the weekend box office.

Paramount took possession of the repo project so quickly that other studios didn’t have time to bid. While Kurtzman and Orci are CAA-repped, WME shopped the project and aligned three of its major directors to bids. McG took the project to Warner Bros., Timur Bekmambetov took it to Universal, and Bryan Singer (with Michael De Luca) took it to Sony, with Salerno the writer at each pitch to studio presidents.

Though a portion of the article got published in two parts by Salon.com, Salerno actually acquired the article from Weingarten a year ago. Studios read an 8,000-word unpublished version, along with a pitch by Salerno, who is currently writing a project that James Cameron is producing at Fox.

Kurtzman and Orci said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Shane, a wildly inventive and talented creator. His passion was clear the minute he started telling his story. He has crafted a smart, lighthearted action movie that’s fun and topical, with a ton of unexpected plot twists..”

Salerno will be executive producer with Ellison and Kurtzman/Orci’s Bobby Cohen.

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