Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders has come attached to direct The Kill List, an adaptation of the new Frederick Forsyth thriller that was acquired by producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler. Give those producers credit for wasting no time, as they just bought the book last month. After they acquired the Cormac McCarthy spec script The Counselor, they had that film in production in record time at Fox with Ridley Scott directing and a cast headed by Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.

Sanders, who made his feature directing debut on Huntsman, has always been a big fan of Forsyth’s espionage thrillers, and Kill List reminded him of this Hemingway line: “There is no hunting like the hunting of men, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

The producers are now meeting with writers to jump start the adaptation, and Sanders will be very involved in that process. Pic will be a co-production between Chockstone Pictures and Nick Wechsler Productions. Roger Schwartz is a co-producer.In a statement, Sanders expressed his love for Forsyth’s work: “Day Of The Jackal, Odessa File and The Dogs Of War are three of the finest works of modern espionage. It is an incredible privilege to work from Forsyth’s new novel The Kill List. It is a thrilling read and frighteningly accurate. It immerses us in the shadowy worlds of terrorists, spies, private contractors, US and UK special forces. It spans an epic, international world and delves deep into the psychology of its two main characters – ‘the hunter’ – a US Special Forces Tracker and ‘the hunted’ an extreme fundamentalist terrorist. Forsyth’s depth of research and authenticity creates a vivid and frightening story – a nightmare scenario that is all too possible. He predicted new strains of civilian terrorism long before the horrible murder in Woolwich and draws out conclusions to where such actions spread like a virus.”

The contemporary espionage tale is described as an intricate chess game between a brilliant Marine, an Israeli agent, a teenage hacker and a mysterious psychopathic cleric. The novel will be published in September by Penguin. Sanders is repped by CAA and Independent Talent Group.