EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has set David Koepp to adapt The Themis Files, the debut novel by Sylvain Neuvel that Matt Tolmach and Josh Bratman will produce. It will be published by Ballantine Books. As Sony rights itself after a turbulent end of year, it’s a coup to have an A-lister like Koepp come in as the first writer to turn this large canvas science fiction tale into a potential tent pole. It’s also the second project that came in a flurry of fall acquisitions of new intellectual property, spearheaded by president of production Michael De Luca, that has already drawn strong elements. The other is the Jon Spaihts science fiction script Passengers, which got The Imitation Game‘s Morten Tyldum set to direct and now has Guardians Of The Galaxy‘s Chris Pratt circling as the male lead. De Luca and Lauren Abrahams are overseeing The Themis Files.

koeppThe novel revolves around a secret project to assemble the ancient body parts of a giant humanoid relic buried throughout the world by aliens. It’s discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where a young girl named Rose Franklin falls into a huge hole and literally lands in the palm of a giant metal hand. The government swarms, but loses interest after failing to gain any military or technological secrets. By the time it’s demilitarized years later, that young girl is a physicist with the University of Chicago and she spearheads the building project after other body parts are discovered around the U.S. She tries all this covertly in an underground facility in Denver but when her project goes public, the paranoia and greed push mankind to the brink of world war, even as its researchers puzzle over whether they are reviving a weapon of mass destruction or something else.

Tolmach has a strong relationship with Koepp that goes back to his tenure as co-president of production at Columbia Pictures, where Koepp scripted Spider-Man, The Panic Room and Angels & Demons, all projects Tolmach steered in his exec capacity. Koepp most recently directed the Johnny Depp comedy Mortdecai.

Koepp is repped by CAA and attorney David Fox.