EXCLUSIVE: UTA just emerged victorious in a signing derby for Taken director Pierre Morel. The filmmaker had been repped by CAA and had been in play since his agent Spencer Baumgarten left. Baumgarten, now at ICM Partners, was in the mix, as was Verve, but the team at UTA won the day.

Morel, who came up as a cinematographer working closely with Luc Besson in France, has directed Taken, District B13, From Paris With Love and most recently the Sean Penn-starrer The Gunman. He produced the recently wrapped Scott Eastwood-starrer Overdrive and is in the mix on several projects, including the S. Craig Zahler-scripted Big Stone Grid. He continues to be managed by Sentient Entertainment’s Renee Tab and is lawyered by Gretchen Rush.

After both CAA and WME let go of veteran agents with established client lists, numerous writers and directors are in play.