Deadline is reporting that Sony Pictures has scooped up the rights to three novels by American thriller writer Olen Steinhauer – New York Times bestseller “The Tourist” and its sequels, “Nearest Exit” and “An American Spy” (the last of which came out this past spring). The studio has attached longtime spy fan Doug Liman to direct, with Matt Corman and Chris Ord, co-creators of the Liman-produced TV series “Covert Affairs,” on board to write the script. They will undoubtedly be changing the title for the first movie, since no one wants to be reminded of the atrocious Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie dud of the same name.
Back in 2009, when “The Tourist” came out, George Clooney snapped up the movie rights, with an intention to play Weaver, the lead character, a spy for a clandestine espionage group who, of course, is on the verge of retirement, and brought back in for a mystery that ultimately envelops him. While the first book sold the most copies, the subsequent novels have also done well and are well regarded critically. Steinhauer, who lives in Hungary, also wrote a series of books prior to the Weaver trilogy about a fictional country in what would roughly be categorized as the Ukraine during the Cold War, with each book focusing on a different character in the country. Ambitious stuff…
Liman, of course, is a connoisseur of the spy genre. He kicked off the Bourne franchise with “The Bourne Identity” (while Paul Greengrass gets much of the credit for the overall look and feel of the series, a lot of credit should be dished out to Liman, who planted the seeds in the first film) and then directed the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt spy romp “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” before transition to the real-life world of espionage with the bristling Valerie Plame drama “Fair Game.”
The plan is to have the script for “The Tourist” worked on while Liman shoots his adaptation of the Japanese science fiction novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, “All You Need Is Kill” with Tom Cruise, for Warner Bros. After “All You Need Is Kill” is finished shooting, he’ll begin working on “The Tourist” in earnest. Liman will also produce alongside his production partner David Bartis. Hannah Minghella and Rachel O’Connor will oversee the “The Tourist’s” development at Sony.