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Paramount Options Drone Fighter Story (EXCLUSIVE)

Paramount Pictures has optioned the life rights and autobiography of drone warfare fighter Brett Velicovich, with an eye toward producing an “American Sniper”-style big-screen biopic.

The studio made a six-figure preemptive deal for the former U.S. intelligence specialist’s suspenseful, action-packed story. Velicovich’s memoir will chronicle his special ops drone strikes, which targeted some of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

Velicovich left his family at a young age to join the Army, and eventually suffered a crisis of conscience over drone warfare killings. He found redemption as a civilian by using his technological expertise to capture poachers of African rhinos and other endangered animals. The story will take moviegoers through his years serving in the Iraq War and onto his adventures in Afghanistan, Somalia and Kenya.

His memoir, co-written with Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Christopher S. Stewart, is now undergoing a lengthy security review by government agencies due to the classified nature of some material and secrecy surrounding U.S. drone operations. It’s expected to be published sometime later this year.

After completing his military service in 2010, Velicovich, who is repped by WME, earned an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and helped launch an initiative that uses drones to support wildlife conservation overseas. During his years of counter-terrorism work, he has studied the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, with a particular focus on groups like ISIS and Al-Shabaab.

Since the 2014 war vet biopic “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper, grossed an astounding $547.4 million worldwide and nabbed six Oscar nominations, Hollywood has looked to duplicate its success. Upcoming features based on real-life war fighters include Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” the Liam Neeson-toplined “Operation Chromite,” the Kate Mara-led “Leavey” and “Thank You for Your Service,” helmed by “Sniper” scribe Jason Hall.

Velicovich is repped by WME.

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