Blake Lively, Reed Morano Team On Female-Driven Espionage Thriller From James Bond Producers

Blake Lively Reed Morano

Great news: A female Jason Bourne-type film is on its way and from the filmmakers who have given us the last eight Bond movies. They have tapped both Blake Lively to star in the female-driven espionage thriller and The Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano to helm. The film called The Rhythm Section, based on the first in the series of four novels from Mark Burnell, is being financed by IM Global and produced by the longtime James Bond team of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli at EON Productions in London.

The two companies are planning multiple films based on the protagonist of Burnell’s novels, the heroine Stephanie Patrick, so move over Jason Bourne, there’s a new woman on the block and she’s taking names and will be kicking it.

The move is notable in that it really marks the first time the Broccoli’s family has gotten behind another espionage film series as they have never ventured into that type of franchise play outside of Bond.

IM Global’s Stuart Ford and the company’s production topper Greg Shapiro (The Hurt LockerZero Dark Thirty, Detroit) and author/screenwriter Burnell will serve as executive producers. The project is slated to go before the cameras in the fall of 2017 in locations such as the UK, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S.

The books and the story are closer to the Bourne or Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series than Bond in that they are more reality based, and like those films will be a big-budget international undertaking.

Both Lively and Morano are currently in the midst of other projects. Morano’s latest feature — in which she is both director and DP — I Think We’re Alone Now with Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning is in post-production and will premiere in 2018. Lively is in pre-prod on director Paul Feig’s film A Simple Favor at Lionsgate.

IM Global and EON have collaborated before on Film Stars Dont Die In Liverpool, a true story and romantic drama starring Annette Bening, Jamie Bell and Julie Walters. That was directed by Paul McGuigan.

This new film, The Rhythm Section, will be “a contemporary adaptation”of the first thriller in the book series of four which also include Gemini, The Third Woman and Chameleon. The logline: “Patrick (Lively) is on a path of self-destruction after the death of her family in an airplane crash, a flight that she was meant to be on. After discovering that the crash was not an accident, her anger awakens a new sense of purpose and she rises to uncover the truth by adapting the identity of an assassin to track down those responsible. The new, and lethal, Stephanie Patrick is on a mission to fill the void between what she knows and what she is told.”

Morano recently served as a director/executive producer of the of the first three episodes of critically acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu and MGM. That was also based on a book (Margaret Atwood). She was honored with an Independent Spirit Award nomination for cinematography in her directorial debut Meadowland starring Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson, where she also served as the film’s cinematographer. She is a lauded cinematographer as well, known for her work on Frozen River, Kill Your Darlings and Shut Up and Play the Hits. In 2013, she was inducted into the American Society of Cinematographers as its youngest member; at the time she was also only one of 12 female cinematographer members.

Lively most recently starred in the global box office hit The Shallows for Sony Pictures. Other credits include Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, Lionsgate’s The Age of Adaline, Warner Brothers’ The Town, Rebecca Miller’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films based on the best-selling YA novels.

EON Productions, Morano and Lively are all repped by WME. Lively is also repped by Management 360. IM Global and WME Global are handling worldwide rights.

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