Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions are negotiating with Tom Cruise to star this fall in One Shot, a thriller based on the Lee Child book series about former military policeman-turned-drifter Jack Reacher. Christopher McQuarrie will direct his script. The talks going on right now is for Cruise to make the movie before he stars in the Joseph Kosinski-directed Oblivion at Universal, which starts in January.

Making a Cruise deal is always tricky, and if the One Shot deal takes awhile to come together, it would happen after Oblivion shoots next year. Paramount will co-finance the film with Skydance Productions, whose principal David Ellison also co-financed Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.

Fans of the Reacher book will have to absorb this development, because Cruise is very different physically from the bruising tough guy who has created mayhem over 15 bestselling novels that have sold 40 million copies. In the books, Reacher is 6’5,” about 250 pounds, and when you are on the business end of his clenched fists, you are most likely going to be spitting out teeth and getting fitted for a cast or two. Cruise has always been interested in the Reacher series. In fact, when he and Paula Wagner were partners at C/W, they optioned the book five years ago. Paramount has been developing ever since, but this is the closest that the Reacher franchise has to becoming a reality after years in development. So what if he’s not as tall and beefy as Reacher? I’m told that the author himself is excited about Cruise playing the role, that Cruise personifies the qualities Reacher displays in the books. As for Reacher’s hulking physical size, Child wasn’t locked into an oversized actor (one reason the film took so long to get off the ground), and it was more about establishing an intimidating presence.

“Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way,” Child said when he threw his support behind the move.

Child’s prose is very spare and blunt and Reacher is a no-frills guy. He drifts around the country, carrying nothing more than a toothbrush, the clothes on his back, his passport and access to his military pension. He finds his way into all kinds of misadventures but usually winds up using his brawn and his brains from years of military experience to solve conspiracies for underdogs. In One Shot, Reacher investigates a case in which a lone sniper murders five victims before being captured. Reacher discovers it’s more than a simple open-and-shut case. Cruise and McQuarrie are regular collaborators. They did Valkyrie, and McQuarrie did some script work on Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and he also did early script work on The Tourist when Cruise was going to be the film’s star.

The novel is set in the Midwest, but the film will shoot in Pittsburgh, I’m told.

Don Granger and Cruise will produce through Mutual Film Company and C/W Productions. Skydance’s Ellison and Dana Goldberg are producing as is Gary Levinsohn and Wagner. Josh Olson wrote an earlier draft before McQuarrie came aboard. McQuarrie’s manager, Ken Kamins of Key Creatives, is exec producer. Cruise is repped by CAA and so is McQuarrie, whose lawyer is David Fox.

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