Hyde Park buys Nick Stone rights

Production company targets Andy McNab book series as franchise

Hyde Park has acquired the rights to Brit author Andy McNab’s Nick Stone espionage novels and is eyeing the series as a potential franchise.

The first pic will be “Echelon,” which is based on McNab’s novel “Firewall” and is the third of 12 books in the series. “Echelon” will mark the first pic to be financed under the Hyde Park/Imagenation pact; the two companies recently partnered on a $250 million deal to develop, produce and distribute up to 20 films over seven years.

Veteran casting agent Bonnie Timmerman, who acquired the rights to the series in mid-1990s, is producing alongside Hyde Park topper Ashok Amritraj. Timmerman, whose producing credits include the Nicole Kidman starrer “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus,” sold the rights to the novels in July 2001 to Harvey Weinstein, who tried for years to get a Nick Stone project off the ground, but spy pics turned cold in a post-9/11 world and Weinstein eventually let the rights lapse.

In “Echelon,” soldier of fortune Nick Stone, paired with a street-smart female cryptographer, is hired to infiltrate a computer facility poised to breach a secret global surveillance system.

McNab and John Connor, who together penned the script, are exec producing along with Imagenation’s Mohamed Khalaf Al-Mazrouei and Edward Borgerding. Imagenation’s Stefan Brunner will serve as associate producer. Hyde Park’s Patrick Aiello is shepherding the pic.

“I’ve been a fan of the Nick Stone stories for years, as they are a rich and unique source for a contemporary action-thriller,” said Amritraj, who likened the series to Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne novels.