Paula Mae Schwartz, Steve Schwartz and Nick Wechsler have proved to be a powerful and effective producing trio so far, having worked together first on the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s tragic post-apocalypse novel “The Road,” and then later obtaining an original screenplay from McCarthy for a crime drama called The Counselor, with Ridley Scott directing and a stellar cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Natalie Dormer and Penélope Cruz.
The production team are once again moving forward hastily to get another novel adaptation onto the big screen.
They acquired the film rights to Frederick Forsyth’s new espionage thriller The Kill List for a six-figure sum only last month, and Deadline now reports that they’ve already found a director for the project in British newcomer Rupert Sanders.
Sanders achieved a modest success, both critically and commercially, with his first feature directing role on Snow White and the Huntsman, but won’t be returning to direct the planned sequel, due in large part to the messy and highly-publicized affair that he had with lead Kristen Stewart. Last year he was reported to have been in negotiations to direct a Van Helsing reboot that had Tom Cruise attached to star, but news on that project has since gone quiet and it’s not yet known whether Sanders took the job, or indeed if the film is still in development.
The Kill List sounds like it could be a solid follow-up for Sanders if executed well, though he’s still untested in the action-thriller genre so it’s difficult to get an idea of how well he fits the job. On the positive side, Sanders sounds very enthusiastic about the project:
“Day Of The Jackal, Odessa File and The Dogs Of War are three of the finest works of modern espionage. It is an incredible privilege to work from Forsyth’s new novel The Kill List. It is a thrilling read and frighteningly accurate. It immerses us in the shadowy worlds of terrorists, spies, private contractors, US and UK special forces. It spans an epic, international world and delves deep into the psychology of its two main characters – ‘the hunter’ – a US Special Forces Tracker and ‘the hunted’ an extreme fundamentalist terrorist.
“Forsyth’s depth of research and authenticity creates a vivid and frightening story – a nightmare scenario that is all too possible. He predicted new strains of civilian terrorism long before the horrible murder in Woolwich and draws out conclusions to where such actions spread like a virus.”
Sanders is in quite a privileged position to have read the manuscript for “The Kill List”, since the book won’t be published until September. According to the synopsis, the ‘kill list’ of the title refers to a secret catalogue of names known only to those in the highest ranks of the US government: names of individuals who pose the greatest threat to international security. The book’s protagonist, a ex-marine known only as The Tracker, is assigned the task of finding and stopping a radical Islamic cleric called The Preacher, whose name is at the top of the kill list and who is responsible for a series of violent, high-profile deaths across the USA, UK and Europe.
If the book is a match in quality for Forsyth’s existing list of acclaimed novels then it will require an expert screenwriter to translate it into a film treatment, so keep a close eye out for further news of who will be penning the script for this one. Given the reputation of the producers, it’s unlikely that we’ll be waiting too long for an update.
The Kill List doesn’t have a release date yet, but expect further news soon.