New Line has closed a deal to acquire The Virginian, a formative period action thriller about Founding Father George Washington before he found his place in defiance of the British Army. The script is by Michael Gunn, a protege of Aaron Sorkin. This one has had more than its share of buzz around town, because agents of talent have asked to read it on behalf of their star clients, though there is no star attached at this stage. Donald De Line will produce. Deal was mid-six figures.
It sets up a potential race, as Red Granite has been developing the Bill Collage & Adam Cooper script The General, which The Wolf Of Wall Street backer is developing as a potential re-team for Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. Even though business came to a screeching halt yesterday because of Yom Kippur, the deal for The Virginian was closed late last night by Paradigm, Principato-Young Entertainment and attorney David Fox. This was one where producers scrambled to bring it into studios, and De Line, who is producing the Going In Style remake and the Steven Spielberg-attached Ready Player One, brought it into New Line.
The script’s movie potential is best described as Last Of The Mohicans meets Braveheart. A down-and-out, young George Washington — desperate to join the British Army — accepts a dangerous mission to conquer a French fort and save the American colonies. Gunn served as Executive Story Editor on The Whispers, after working for Sorkin as story editor on HBO’s The Newsroom. This season, Michael is writing for Jonathan Steinberg and Michael Bay’s Starz series Black Sails. Gunn might be the only up and coming scribe to have been raised on a Christmas tree farm in South Carolina, and he earned degrees from Clemson, Cambridge, and Boston University. Now he’s turned the dual disciplines of History and English into something here.