EXCLUSIVE: Though the past several years have left Lawrence Kasdan focused in space writing Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Solo: A Star Wars Story, Kasdan will now focus on the period surrounding the JFK assassination. Kasdan has made a six-figure acquisition of the film rights to November Road, the upcoming novel from Edgar Award-winning author Lou Berney. The novel is just being published by William Morrow HarperCollins.
Kasdan will write and direct, and will produce the film with Shane Salerno in a co-production between Kasdan Pictures and The Story Factory. The producers intend to fast-track the project, and for it to be Kasdan’s next film. Distributors are circling and that part of the deal should be made shortly.
In the spirit of No Country for Old Men, Man on Fire, and Witness, November Road is a story of second chances and redemption. It’s November 22, 1963, JFK has just been assassinated, and all Frank Guidry was supposed to do was get rid of the car – the same car, he realizes, that he had personally delivered to Dealey Plaza a week before. This connects him to the president’s murder and, when other loose ends begin dying all around him, Frank knows he’s next. Hunted by a ruthless hitman hired by his ex-boss, Frank heads across the desert where he meets Charlotte Roy, who is running away from her smalltown life and abusive alcoholic husband with two young daughters and an epileptic dog in tow. Guidry sees this instant family scenario as the perfect cover and while he might get her killed, Charlotte sees him as her best chance at a new life, if they can escape before his past catches up to him. Berney’s most recent novel, The Long and Faraway Gone, won the Edgar Award, and November Road is generating strong buzz and is expected to be his commercial breakthrough book.
“November Road is a mesmerizing novel — a brutal, nerve-wracking crime thriller combined with a stirring, romantic love story,” Kasdan said. “The book is populated by funny, surprising characters of many ages and will make a hugely entertaining and emotional movie.”
Over a long career that includes scripting Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and The Bodyguard and directing such films as The Big Chill, Body Heat, Silverado and The Accidental Tourist, Kasdan’s films have grossed over $4.5 billion collectively.
Berney called Kasdan “one of the best filmmakers in the world, with a list of iconic films to his credit. He has just the right sensitivity and humanity for a book that crosses multiple genres but is ultimately a love story.”
The Story Factory just set at CBS a limited series adaptation of A Higher Loyalty, the bestselling memoir by former FBI director James Comey, with Billy Ray adapting, and also has the Don Winslow novel The Force at Twentieth Century Fox with James Mangold directing from a Scott Frank screenplay, The Cartel at Fox with Salerno adapting, and Afterlife at Imagine with Marcus Sakey adapting his bestseller.
Kasdan is represented by CAA. Berney is represented by The Story Factory.