EXCLUSIVE: Spider-Man: Homecoming producer Amy Pascal and star Tom Holland have found another film on which to collaborate. Pascal Pictures’ Pascal and Rachel O’Connor have acquired film rights to the Mark Sullivan novel Beneath A Scarlet Sky, with Holland attached to play the lead role. This comes on a week when the book emerged as a top seller on the Amazon lists. It is the story of a forgotten WWII hero. Pino Lella is a normal Italian teenager living an idyllic life in Italy, until bombs begin falling on Milan and word of Nazi atrocities begin to circulate. While waiting to join the fight, Lello joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, guiding hundreds of Jews to safety in a year. On his 18th birthday, Lello is forced to enlist with the German Army, and is immediately assigned as a personal driver to Adolf Hitler’s left hand, General Hans Leyers. This fly on the wall in the upper echelons of the Third Reich positions him to be recruited by the Allies as a spy. Known to Allied Intelligence only as “Observer,” Lella endures the horrors of WWII and the Nazi occupation by secretly feeding intel to the Allies that was strategically important enough to turn the tides of the war. When Lella’s courage falters, he is bolstered by his love for a young woman named Anna, and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
Pascal and O’Connor will produce and Averie Huffine found the project and will shepherd it. Pascal acquired the book herself, as she did with the Liz Hannah spec The Post, about Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers. That film, now called The Papers, took root at Fox and Amblin, where it will be released in the upcoming Oscar race, with Steven Spielberg directing Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in those roles. Pascal produced that with Kristie Macosko Krieger and Spielberg.
The author was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and was an investigative journalist who now writes books including five collaborations with James Patterson. He heavily research the saga, but it was published as a novel because so many of the records were destroyed. Lella just celebrated his 91st birthday, and he lives in Milan, Italy. His estate is managed by his son Michael.
Holland, who’ll reprise in the Spidey sequel, has also come attached to a second Sony franchise hopeful Uncharted, based on the videogame. Shawn Levy will direct that. WME and Curtis Brown rep Holland. The author is co-repped by CAA and Meg Ruley at Jane Rotrosen Agency.