Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Liam Neeson is set to star as Matt Scudder in A Walk Among the Tombstones, the Scott Frank-scripted adaptation of the Lawrence Block book series. Frank will direct his script. The movie will begin production February, 2013 in New York and is the first film in a new three-year deal between Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures to develop, finance and produce at least two films per year, with budgets up to $65 million. Each of the films will be released through Universal Pictures, which has a slate distribution deal with Cross Creek.

In A Walk Among the Tombstones, Neeson plays Scudder at the time he’s an ex-NYPD cop and unlicensed private detective and recovering alcoholic. He’s hired to find the kidnapped wife of a drug dealer. In the process, he discovers that the kidnappers have done this before and it has led to brutal murders. Block’s Scudder character was previously played by Jeff Bridges in the Hal Ashby-directed 8 Million Ways To Die. Double Feature Films partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher will produce with Danny DeVito and his Jersey Films. Exclusive Media’s Alex Walton will sell overseas rights at Cannes.

The funding deal was made by Exclusive Media co-chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East and Cross Creek president Brian Oliver after the two companies joined forces on several movies, and most recently Rush, the Ron Howard-directed and Peter Morgan-scripted drama about the rivalry between ’70s Formula One champion drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth).

“We have long enjoyed a fulfilling business partnership with Brian and his team at Cross Creek, creating success with The Ides Of March, The Woman in Black and now Rush,” Exclusive Media’s Sinclair and East said in a statement. “We feel very confident to formalize and strenghten our development, financing and production arrangement with Brian and we are thrilled to start this new chapter with such a commercial project.”

The Exclusive Media-Cross Creek arrangement will include a six-figure revolving development fund to generate projects, and they can team on pictures outside those that will be released through Universal. Exclusive Media COO brokered the deal with Cross Creek’s Oliver and Exclusive Media president of Worldwide Production and Acquisitions Tobin Armbrust will oversee it.