EXCLUSIVE: After a spirited bidding battle involving multiple studios, 20th Century Fox has just closed a 7-figure deal for film rights to the international spy thriller Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews. Film Rites‘ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch will produce. The book sold to Scribner in a similarly vigorous publishing auction last year. It will be published in June.
The book is set in contemporary Russia, and state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash. He is a first-tour CIA officer who handles the agency’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and inevitably, a sexual attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow. Dominika winds up seeking revenge against her soulless masters, and living a fatal double life after she is recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington. She also hunts down a Russian illegal buried deep in the U.S. military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Vladimir Putin’s intelligence service. Fox’s Kira Goldberg was instrumental in securing the rights. ICM Partners repped the author and brokered the deal.