EXCLUSIVE: After spearheading writers rooms on Transformers and Hasbro properties at Paramount Pictures, Akiva Goldsman has relocated his Weed Road banner to the Melrose Avenue lot with a two-year first-look deal. Goldsman will do a number of things for the studio, aimed at creating franchises that include directing a feature from Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld’s comic creation Avengelyne to hatching a series of genre films and producing adaptations of two bestselling book series that have repeat potential.
“Marc Evans and Jim Gianopulos have been longtime supporters and friends, and I am excited to be part of what they are building at Paramount,” Goldsman said.
New projects for Goldsman will include Rainbow Six, an adaptation of the Tom Clancy bestseller that focuses on the mercenary John Clark character originated in Clancy’s Jack Ryan novel series. The novel will be adapted by Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec, who have been working on the Beverly Hills Cop reboot at Paramount. The 1999 novel revolves around Ex-Navy SEAL Clark, who in the book is named head of an international task force to combat terrorism. The team quickly is confronted by a series of international incidents, making the real threat a group of terrorism bent on global destruction. Sources said loose discussions have taken place with Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds to possibly develop this as vehicle for him to play Clark. Goldsman will produce.
The Clark character has shown up in the Jack Ryan films Clear and Present Danger (Willem Dafoe) and The Sum of All Fears (Liev Schreiber). The studio in the past has tried without luck to turn Clark into a franchise character. Now that Paramount moved the Jack Ryan franchise from films to a TV series that will star John Krasinski, there is a vacancy for a grounded, hands-on action hero. Paramount owns the Clancy series, and the expectation is that in success, Rainbow Six would be followed by the origin tale Without Remorse.
Paramount also just acquired Ologies, the series of YA books that include Alienology, Dragonology, Monsterology, Vampireology, Illusionology and about 15 others. Each of the volumes was written as a textbook that treats fantastical fantasy elements in grounded educational terms. Goldsman will organize a writers room to figure out a way to thematically link the exploration of mythical creatures and races in the hope of creating a film series for Paramount on which he would be lead producer. A few of the books had been based at Universal, which let the rights lapse; that led to a competitive auction for the entire series, with Paramount beating out Fox for the rights.
An executive producer of the Paranormal Activity franchise that was one of the early genre hits for Paramount, Goldsman also will be tasked with developing several genre films in the $5M-$10M budget range.
Goldsman contracted to move his deal several months ago from Warner Bros, where his company was ensconced for 20 years. The move just happened, and Paramount has allowed Goldsman to expand his company. Greg Lessans has re-upped as Weed Road president, and Rachel Reznick and Alexandra Neal were promoted to creative executives after working for the company for several years.
Goldsman also is developing to direct for Paramount Avengelyne, based on the comic hatched by Deadpool creator Liefeld. She is an angel who fights the forces of evil and often finds herself face-to-face with demons and monsters. Once the most feared warrior in heaven’s Warhost team after singlehandedly breaking into the outer fortress of hell to confront the devil himself, she became a fallen angel, banished from heaven by God after being tricked into questioning his love for humans. She was stripped of all her angelic abilities, other than her great strength and her blood — which, once extracted from her body, could be used as a weapon or a miracle once empowered by quoting verses from the Bible. Avengelyne uses her powers to fight demons on Earth and is being groomed to be humankind’s last hope in a coming Armageddon.
All this comes as Goldsman’s decade-long effort to adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower novel series with A Beautiful Mind cohorts Ron Howard and Brian Grazer is about to pay off with the Nicolaj Arcel-directed film that stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. Goldsman shares screen credit with Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen and Arcel, and he is the film’s producer with Howard, Erica Huggins and King. The film was co-financed by Sony Pictures and MRC. Another iteration of the King saga, an origin story of Elba’s mythical gunslinger, could materialize on television.
“The first episode of a show has been written, and we hope to retain Ron’s original idea to mix platforms, something that seemed revolutionary 10 years ago but now is something that others have done,” Goldsman said. “Idris for sure is part of this, and if the movie is Roland Deschain the gunslinger, the show is his origin story, based on the fourth novel in the series, Wizard and Glass.”
Goldsman’s first-look TV deal is with Imagine, but he has been working with Viacom on the new spinoff Star Trek: Discovery that will launch the CBS All Access streaming service. Goldsman is an exec producer, writer and director on the show. He also is teamed with Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti at Warner Bros on Titans, based on the DC Comics property Teen Titans revolving around Nightwing, Batman’s sidekick Dick Grayson after he goes off on his own. Goldsman co-write the pilot with Johns; it has been set for a 13-episode commitment and will launch DC’s new digital platform.
WME reps Goldsman.