I’m about to give all the Hollywood moguls indigestion before they’ve even taken a bite of their Thanksgiving meal. That’s because I’m told that Akiva Goldsman, who adapted Dan Brown’s worldwide bestseller into a $755.6 mil hit pic, is receiving $4 million for the Da Vinci Code sequel in the works by both Imagine Entertainment and Sony Pictures. Not only is that major moola, but agents are telling me this represents a new $$$ high for hiring a screenwriter (not buying a spec script) — and not even an original screenplay, but an adaptation of a book. And, no, Goldsman isn’t getting a producer credit, so this is for straight scribbling. “That would be a lot for a pure writer’s credit,” one agent gushed. “It puts Akiva in the absolute top of his profession.” (Actually, the first rumor I heard was an astounding $6 mil, but the truth is $2 mil less than that. As for whether the deal also includes gross points, dunno.) Anyway, this is great news for Hollywood screenwriters, who continue to get screwed left and right in the moviemaking process, notwithstanding the WGA’s supposedly best but also glacial efforts to prevent that. The terrible news is that it’s sad these bucks are going for the sequel to a movie which the critics roundly panned. Generally, the most in-demand screenwriters these days are getting between $2 mil and $2.5 mil per project. And Sony historically has been known to open its wallets a little wider for writers than most studios. “Bob Osher talks a tough game, but when Amy Pascal really wants something, she gets it,” one source told me. The reason for the big score is that the studio wants the 2008-slotted sequel, like, yesterday, not only because the first movie did so well, but also because of the expected studio-WGA confrontations next year. Fortunately for Goldsman, when DVC came out, Sony already owned the rights to the Robert Langdon character. Not only is the Harvard symbologist the protagonist in Brown’s Angels and Demons, but also featured in a new book the author is penning as we speak that takes off where Da Vinci Code leaves off. In A&D, Goldsman must make sense of a plot crammed with Vatican intrigue and high-tech drama: it thrusts Langdon together with an ancient and shadowy secret brotherhood, the Illuminati, the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. Their enemy is the Catholic Church and they’re detemined to carry out the final phase of a legendary vendetta against it. The heroine is a beautiful Italian physicist whose father, a brilliant physicist, has been murdered. There’s a frantic quest through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals and a secret vault to find the world’s most powerful energy source. I haven’t read the book (I can’t stand crap like this), but I’m told it’s better than DVC, which isn’t exactly hard.
EXCLUSIVE: New $ High for Screenwriter
What's Hot on Deadline
'It' Becoming Biggest Horror Pic Ever Beating 'The Exorcist'; 'Annabelle: Creation' Scares Up $100M+