Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Simon & Schuster has made a deal for Don Winslow to write a prequel novel to Savages, his bestseller that forms the basis of the film that Oliver Stone will begin shooting for Universal Pictures July 6, with Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro starring. Simon & Schuster’s Jofie Ferrari-Adler acquired the book from CAA. The Story Factory made his publishing deal.

Savages, a book that got wide acclaim last year before its paperback publication (The New York Times named it one of the top 10 books of 2010), focuses on a couple of Laguna-based pot growers who are muscled by a Mexican drug cartel that kidnaps O, a young woman who’s their best friend and occasional bed partner. Faced with an impossibly high ransom, the growers begin hijacking the cartel’s own shipments to ransom back their friend. That book has something of a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid climax, so a sequel wasn’t in the cards. The idea of the prequel book came from Shane Salerno, who wrote the movie script with Winslow and Stone. The prequel fleshes out the relationship between the pot growers (played by Kitsch and Johnson) and O (played by Lively), and will add interaction with characters from Winslow’s other novels that include The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Power of the Dog. Winslow is already deep into the writing and the book and the hardcover will be ready for publication in proximity of the movie, which will be released in 2012.

Stone optioned the book on his own a year ago, set the complete package up at Universal and goes into production on the $50 million film next month. Moritz Borman and Eric Kopeloff are producing and Salerno exec producing.

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