EXCLUSIVE: In what turned out to be the second spirited book rights auction in the last few days, Paramount Pictures has acquired screen rights to Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, a Joe Schreiber novel that sold last Friday to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as a young adult title in a two-book deal. I’m told Paramount Pictures made an aggressive bid that has Roy Lee as producer and will potentially involve Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage through their new Par-based Fake Empire banner. I’ve heard the auction came down to Par and Fox, which bid for producer John Davis. It’s unclear how the Schwartz/Savage alignment will play out, but they have the youth cred that is a strong match for material crosses John Hughes coming-of-age terrain with Grosse Pointe Blank. The numbers were in the mid-to-high six figure range before the deal closed.
The protagonist is a high school kid whose parents take in an Eastern European exchange student. Though she seems homely and ordinary at first, he realizes he misjudged her. After they leave the prom at her suggestion to go clubbing in New York City, she reveals herself to be a beautiful assassin after 5 targets. He is pressed to help and has to figure out if her motives are righteous. The movie rights were handled by Don Laventhall of the Harold Ober Agency. Laventhall would not comment. Irene Yeung will be an exec producer.
This is a big break for the author, whose past novels and spec scripts were in the horror genre.
This follows last week’s deal by Relativity Media to acquire rights to the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven, for around $2 million against $5 million. The front of that deal buys Relativity 9 months to get a script ready. Book-to-film deals are generally sluggish in late summer, so this is a welcome burst of activity.
The movie crowd is also following a deal that Clockers author/screenwriter Richard Price just made with Holt for a new book series. Though he’ll write with a pseudonym Jay Morris, Price will ply familiar crime territory. His main character is a 40-year old New York City detective who tries to earn his way out of the doghouse (for two shootings) by trying to solve the murder of an inebriated man in the bathroom of a bar. The first book will be published fall, 2011 and Janklow-Nesbit made his deal.