Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Fox 2000 and Chernin Entertainment have teamed on a deal for screen rights to the upcoming Robert Harris novel The Fear Index, a thriller Knopf will publish in January in the US after a September UK release. The pic will be produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping. I’d initially heard that director Paul Greengrass might be involved, but his reps say that while he and the author go back to their BBC days, the filmmaker isn’t part of this deal.

The thriller involves a scientist who figures out how to use a revolutionary system of computer algorithms to trade on the world’s financial markets. His hedge fund, which is built around the standard measure of market volatility–called the Fear Index–reaps huge returns. Late one night while he’s asleep with his wife in their house beside Lake Geneva, an intruder awakens them. Over the course of a day, the scientist needs to figure out who’s trying to destroy him as the world’s financial markets teeter on collapse.

Harris’ books have always been magnets for movie deals. Roman Polanski directed The Ghost Writer based on his novel The Ghost, and Selling Hitler, Fatherland, Pompeii and Archangel have all been turned into telepics or miniseries. CAA made the deal.