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Brubaker adapting ‘Coward’ for Slade to direct

Hunting Lane Films to produce crime noir with Sierra Affinity repping Int'l

Ed Brubaker, the comicbook world’s most decorated scribe of the past five years, is adapting his graphic novel “Coward” for Jamie Patricof’s Hunting Lane Films, which has acquired the rights to the modern crime noir and attached “Twilight: Eclipse” helmer David Slade to direct.

Published by Marvel Comics’ Icon imprint, Brubaker and illustrator Sean Phillips’ “Criminal” series, of which “Coward” is the first arc, won the Eisner for best new series in 2007. For his work on “Captain America,” “Daredevil” and other titles, Brubaker won the top prize of best writer at the Eisner Awards — the most coveted kudo in comics — three out of the past five years.

The first in a series of six interconnected stories, “Coward” centers on Leo, a master heist planner who lives in a world of hustlers, crooked cops, pickpockets and lowlifes. A sequel to “Coward” is in the works, and Hunting Lane has first option on the second in the series, Brubaker told Variety.

Patricof will produce for Hunting Lane Films, the shingle behind “Half Nelson” and “Blue Valentine.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Ed Brubaker on ‘Coward'” said Patricof. “This is such an iconic comic. With David Slade now attached, we have a clear vision for what the film will be.”

“If Ryan Gosling hadn’t already been in ‘Drive,’ he’d be perfect (for the role of Leo),” Brubaker told Variety. “It’s a good role for any actor; about a guy who’s afraid to do things because of what’s inside of him. It’s a heist story, partly — it’s a lot of different crime stories wrapped in one, but heist stories are always exciting if they’re pulled off correctly.”

Onboard to help him do that is Slade, who was at Brubaker’s side working on the project when Variety spoke with the writer last week.

“‘Coward’ was just a great modern story,” Slade said. “It harkens back to an era of crime stories where there’s really a gritty reality to it, but there’s a kind of underworld haze of noir. It’s not like we have to reinvent the material, to figure it out, because it already works.”

Nick Meyer’s Sierra/Affinity is attached to finance the project and handle international sales. “There are so many things we like about this project from the source material being from the renowned Ed Brubaker and the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel that is cherished throughout the world to Jamie Patricof producing and David Slade directing,” Meyer said.

Slade, the musicvid helmer whose first feature was “Hard Candy,” followed by Sony’s adaptation of Steve Niles’ graphic novel “30 Days of Night,” is also attached to direct Fox’s reboot of the “Daredevil” franchise. He is repped by WME and Anonymous Content.

Harris M. Miller II repped Brubaker on the deal.

Brubaker recently optioned his graphic novel “Incognito” to Fox and will co-produce the project. His run as a writer on Marvel’s “Captain America” comic was highly influential on this summer’s “Captain America: First Avenger.”

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