Netflix Wins Record Short Story Auction ‘I Am Not Alone’, Star Vehicle For Jessica Chastain; Misha Green To Write & Direct Grounded Sci-Fi Terror Tale

Jessica Chastain Misha Green
(L-R) Jessica Chastain and Misha Green Getty Images

EXCLUSIVE: If some film executives have looked a bit distracted at the agency Oscar parties tonight, it’s because they were waging a rather breathtaking auction for I Am Not Alone, a 22-page short story by Chris Hicks that is an ideal template for a major genre film. The dust is just settling, but I am hearing that Netflix is closing up a high-six-figure deal for an outright buy of the story, with mid-seven figures pledged to Lovecraft Country’s Misha Green to write the script and direct as a star vehicle for Oscar winner Jessica Chastain.

Five bidders chased this one over 72 hours, and it came down to Netflix and Warner Bros. A big reason for the outcome is that Green wanted this to be with a streamer.

The short story begins with the prologue: “I began seeing the creatures about a week before Zoe’s visit.” I don’t want to give too much of it away, but the story centers around a mother of a young daughter whose life unravels when she suffers unbearable migraines that cause her to hallucinate as she begins to see creatures. It is the template for a grounded sci-fi story about a mother forced to defend her family against a threat only she can see.  

Genre Films’ Simon Kinberg and Audrey Chon, Bread & Circuses Entertainment’s Craig Flores, Scott Glassgold and Peter Katz are producing along with Chastain and her Freckle Pictures partner Kelly Carmichael, and Misha Green. Verve and Glassgold’s Ground Control handled the auction along with Peter Katz, CAA and Range Media Partners. This is the seventh recent deal by Verve and Ground Control, and I think this might be the highest sum paid for short-story IP. Factoring in the producer deals and also Chastain’s salary, the deal will easily exceed the big one made recently for Barbarian director Zach Cregger for Weapons to New Line. And the short story The Occupant, which Cregger was also in the middle of.

This one came down to Netflix and Warner Bros, with the top execs from each making offers from the agency parties.

It is hard to reach the participants at this late hour, but I got hold of two of the producers.

Said Kinberg, who has teamed with Chastain on three previous projects: “I’m a massive fan of Misha’s work, and been friends with Craig for years, so when I got sent this story and heard they were involved, I absolutely flipped out. Misha’s vision for it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And getting to work with Jessica again makes it even dreamer.”

Said Flores, who is producing Green’s directing debut Sunflower for Lionsgate: “Collaborating again with visionary writer-director Misha Green and her unique literary voice on this sci-fi horror franchise is an absolute dream. And combining two creaetive powerhouses like Misha and Simon Kinberg is more than any producer could ask for.”

Hicks is repped by Verve and Story Driven; Green by CAA and Range Media; Chastain is CAA and Mosaic.

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