EXCLUSIVE: Wild West Picture Show Productions has used its discretionary fund to acquire the Ridley Pearson novel The Risk Agent. It will be developed as a star vehicle for Vince Vaughn, who’ll produce with his Wild West cohorts Victoria Vaughn and Sandra J. Smith. They’ve already set Michael Lerner to write the script. The book was published last month by Putnam.
The project will be developed for Universal, where Vaughn has his producing deal. It’s a departure for the actor, a thriller that is set in China. When a Chinese National working for an American-owned construction company is grabbed off the streets of Shanghai in broad daylight and his one-man security detail goes missing as well, the call goes out to Rutherford Risk. That firm specializes in hostage extraction, from negotiation to recovery. Since private investigation is illegal in China, the company recruits two experts. One, Grace Chu, is a female forensic accountant who follows the money; the other, John Knox, is well trained in both combat and culture. They overcome their differing styles to try and get the hostages back before it’s too late.
CAA brought the book to Wild West and made the deal, while Lerner is repped by ICM and Anonymous Content. Lerner scripted Game Theory for Summit, with Niels Arden Oplev attached to direct and Wheeler Dealers for Paramount.