Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ed Zwick is out and Jeffrey Nachmanoff is in as director of American Assassin, the adaptation of the Vince Flynn novel that CBS Films hopes will launch a film franchise based on CIA agent Mitch Rapp. Zwick came aboard last summer after CBS Films, which bought rights to Flynn’s novels several years ago, refocused its attention on American Assassin. While that is the 11th book in the series, it was a prequel that explained how tragedy transformed the protagonist from a college scholar and athlete into a ruthless hunter of terrorists for the CIA.

Nachmanoff previously directed the Don Cheadle espionage thriller Traitor, and co-wrote The Day After Tomorrow with Roland Emmerich. Nachmanoff most recently directed the Dick Wolf-produced NBC pilot Chicago Fire. Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz wrote the most recent draft of the script but exited because Zwick is directing The Great Wall possibly with Henry Cavill, and CBS Films didn’t want to wait.

CBS Films first acquired rights to Flynn’s popular book series in 2008, originally intended to start with Consent To Kill. That action-packed thriller contains several twists that change Rapp’s life permanently. CBS Films got as far as attaching Antoine Fuqua to direct and courting Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell and Lost’s Matthew Fox to play Rapp. They’ll go with a younger actor with this version. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler are producing. Nachmanoff is repped by CAA.