Universal Pictures has optioned screen rights to the new book by New York Times bestselling author and journalist Michael Lewis, about the early days of COVID-19 and those U.S. heroes who tried to warn against the dangers of underestimating the deadly seriousness of the killer virus.
“The Premonition,” which was published last week by W.W. Norton & Co., is a nonfiction story follows three central characters — a biochemist, a public health worker and a federal government employee who work in the White House as they confront the COVID-19 pandemic and find the response from the United States government is woefully inadequate.
The tone for the project is described as being similar to “All the Presidents Men,” focusing on the book’s distinct characters who risked everything in the hope of saving lives.
Lord and Miller will direct the film and produce under their Lord Miller banner, along with Aditya Sood. Amy Pascal will also produce for Pascal Pictures, with Rachel O’Connor.
The new project marks a reunion for Pascal, Lord, Miller & Sood after producing the Oscar-winning film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” The film also reunites Pascal and Lewis, after she produced the adaptation of his book “Moneyball” for Sony Pictures in 2011.
In addition to “Moneyball,” Lewis’ previous works “The Big Short” and “The Blind Side” and have also been adapted into commercially successful films, all three of which earned best picture Oscar nods.
With “The Premonition” reportedly on track to top the New York Times’ best selling nonfiction list, the newly published book was a hot property ahead of Universal’s acquisition of the title. Erik Baiers, Universal’s senior executive vice president of production Development, will oversee the project for the studio.
Sood was an early champion of the project, bringing the book to Lord & Miller’s attention after seeing Lewis discussing it on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
The new project marks the second adaptation of a best-selling novel that Lord and Miller have recently committed to. The duo will also direct and produce the adaptation of Andy Weir’s latest novel, “Project Hail Mary,” which also debuted last week. Notably, Sood identified Andy Weir’s “The Martian” when it was a self-published novel (and he was at Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films), going on to produce the best picture nominated film adaptation.
Lewis (who also hosts the podcast “Against the Rules) is represented by CAA and Writers House. Lord Miller is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham LLP.
Deadline was first to report details of the new project and parties attached.