EXCLUSIVE: Michael Crichton’s brilliant mix of science and narrative resulted in north of $10 billion in film and TV revenue and 250 million books sold. Now, the estate of the author who died in 2008 has made another major deal to bring his work back to new audiences.
Blackstone Publishing has made a seven-figure deal with CrichtonSun to acquire the worldwide print, eBook and audiobook rights to Crichton’s first series of novels, which he wrote under the pseudonym John Lange. This was long before Jurassic Park, ER and such, and he wrote the first three titles while matriculating at Harvard Medical School. This side pursuit also came prior to his first breakout novel done under the Crichton name, 1971’s The Andromeda Strain.
The eight books comprise unconnected tales of fiction in numerous genres and will be shopped to studios and streamers for potential film/television adaptations. Perhaps Crichton didn’t want to mix writing prescriptions and prose, but he used the John Lange pseudonym for Odds On (1966), Scratch One (1967), Easy Go (1968), Zero Cool (1969), The Venom Business (1969), Drug of Choice (1970), Grave Descend (1970) and Binary (1972). Some of these novels touched on the science sandbox he wrote in later on but with pulpy, crime-thriller twists.
All the books are set in the late 1960s and ’70s and were in a way his tribute to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, and to one of his favorite Alfred Hitchcock films, To Catch a Thief. The subjects range from secret treasures to heists, archaeology, unlikely heroes, classic villains and seductive and at times treacherous lovers. At the time, becoming an author was Crichton’s dream, though he had the smarts to be a doctor. These books birthed a great writing career.
The propulsion here is CrichtonSun CEO Sherri Crichton, the author’s widow, who has overhauled the company in recent months. She signed the company and the book catalog with Shane Salerno at The Story Factory, and the intention is to generate new adaptation of her late husband’s work in film, TV and publishing.
The first deal by the restructured CrichtonSun was the publishing partnership with James Patterson — who also moonlighted as an author while building to CEO of the ad agency J. Walter Thompson — bringing together two of the biggest and most successful wordsmiths to collaborate on an unfinished Crichton manuscript. Little, Brown and Company will publish it, and film/TV rights will be brokered in the near future.
Beginning with The Andromeda Strain, Crichton’s work encompassed the TV series ER, Westworld (based on his 1973 movie) and films from the Jurassic Park franchise to Twister, Rising Sun, Sphere, Disclosure, The 13th Warrior (based on his novel Eaters of the Dead) and Congo. I covered the book-to-film marketplace closely during his prime, and each time Crichton finished a book, you knew it would be a week’s worth of late nights (John Grisham was the same), and his work routinely sold to studios in high-seven-figure deals. As screenwriter, producer or EP, his credits also included writing and directing the Westworld movie, The Great Train Robbery, co-writing the screenplay of Jurassic Park, co-writing Rising Sun, producing Disclosure, co-writing and producing Twister and producing Sphere. He also created and executive produced the landmark ER, which aired more than 330 episodes on NBC spanning 15 seasons and won 23 Emmys.
Sherri Crichton wrote a new introduction for the John Lange books to frame his early work, and she is eager to get his books to new audiences.
“I am thrilled to partner with Blackstone Publishing to publish my husband’s series of John Lange books,” Sherri Crichton said. “In these eight early adventure books, Michael was honing his skills and themes that would later make him one of the most successful authors of all time. It is such an honor and pleasure to see the John Lange books freshly and newly published by Blackstone, to reintroduce these books to fans and also present them to a whole new generation of readers.”
Said Blackstone CEO Josh Stanton: “Blackstone is extremely honored to bring Mr. Crichton’s early works back to the forefront. I want to specifically thank Sherri Crichton for trusting us with these special works. Michael was a master storyteller and is one of the most beloved writers of all time for good reason. I can’t wait for both new and existing loyal fans to dive into these timeless adventures.”
Blackstone authors include the estate of 007 author Fleming, Robert Downey Jr, James Clavell, Don Winslow, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name a few.
The Story Factory brokered the deal.
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