EXCLUSIVE: Scott Free Films and New Sparta Films will team on Neither Confirm Nor Deny, the true story of the CIA secret mission to recover a nuclear Soviet submarine three miles under the Pacific Ocean. The companies have just acquired the David H. Sharp book The CIA’s Greatest Covert Operation.

At the height of the Cold War in the late 1960s, the Soviet nuclear submarine K-129 sank in mysterious circumstances. Despite a massive secret search, the Soviets never found their missing submarine – but the Americans located it. The CIA hatched Azorian, the code name for a six year operation to bring up the sub and its secrets, in plain view of the Soviets. They did this using a cover story involving ocean mining fronted by the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Using the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a vessel built specifically for the salvage job, the Americans brought the ship up from the ocean floor. When their cover is later blown by press coverage, the CIA crafted a response that has become all too common in making journalists roll their eyes: we can neither confirm nor deny.

Scott Free and New Sparta also have the life rights to three of the main operatives: author David H. Sharp (the CIA Director for Recovery), Walter Lloyd (CIA Chief of Commercial Operations Division) and Curtis Crooke (President of Global Marine Development). The producers will move quickly to hire a writer, as Scott Free president Kevin Walsh said “now, more than ever, a script like this is incredibly relevant and we look forward to bringing the film to life.”

Christopher Simon, Producer and Managing Director of NSF said “with Ridley Scott, Kevin Walsh and the team at Scott Free, we couldn’t have hoped for a better partner.” NSF’s Sheryl Crown and Philip Carter will spearhead development.

Scott Free just wrapped the Ridley Scott-directed All The Money in the World, a thriller about the Getty kidnapping that stars Kevin Spacey, Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg, and also produced the upcoming Denis Villenueve-directed Blade Runner 2049 and the Kenneth Branagh-directed Murder on the Orient Express with Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp. New Sparta most recently co-financed the Yorgos Lanthimos-directed The Killing Of A Sacred Deer with Film4.