EXCLUSIVE: In a last bit of business before Oscar weekend, Sony Pictures is close to closing a preemptive package that will have Sheldon Turner adapting and Jaume Collet-Serra directing a drama based on Sniper Elite, a series of novels written by Scott McEwen, who with Chris Kyle and Jim DeFelice wrote the bestseller American Sniper. This was sold in a pitch heard by Sony’s Michael De Luca and Ange Giannetti, who’ll steer the project. It’s a high-six against seven-figure deal. Kevin Misher will produce with Jennifer Klein and Ombra Films’ Collet-Serra and his partner Juan Sola.
The timing here is fortuitous, with the box office juggernaut that is American Sniper and with Warner Bros preparing for the March 13 bow of Run All Night, the Brad Ingelsby-scripted thriller that Collet-Serra directed with Liam Neeson and Ed Harris. It is his third straight film with Neeson after Non-Stop and Unknown.
In Sniper Elite, a team of elite former Special Forces operators, led by a Navy SEAL sniper Gil Shannon, is unofficially created by the Pentagon to find the location of a nuclear suitcase and the bad guy who intends to detonate it inside the United States. That is the second book in the three-book series, which McEwen wrote with Thomas Koloniar, and the hope is to create a Tom Clancy-esque franchise around the Shannon Navy SEAL character.
Turner, whose script credits include Up In The Air and X-Men: First Class, has Everest at Sony with Klein and Doug Liman, and with Klein he is in pre-production on the ABC WBTV pilot The Advocate. Misher last produced Carrie, is in prep on The Crow reboot with Corin Hardy directing at Relativity to shoot in May, and he is percolating The Ballad Of Richard Jewell with Jonah Hill attached to play the security guard unfairly blamed for planting an explosive device at a park near the Summer Olympics compound in 1996, and Leonardo DiCaprio to play the lawyer who defended him.
Collet-Serra is repped by CAA, Management 360 and attorney Gretchen Rush, and Turner by CAA and attorney David Fox. Ian Kleinert at Objective Entertainment repped McEwen.