EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has redrawn its plans to launch a film franchise based on the Vince Flynn novel series about CIA agent and Mitch Rapp. Ed Zwick has come aboard to direct an adaptation of American Assassin, a bestseller published last fall by Atria. Though it was the 11th book in the Rapp series, American Assassin was a prequel that told the story of how, as a college scholar and athlete, tragedy forged Rapp’s path to become a ruthless hunter of terrorists for the CIA.
CBS Films, which first acquired the rights to Flynn’s popular book series in 2008, originally intended to start with Consent to Kill, an action-packed thriller that 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.
Instead, Flynn’s prequel novel provided a way to start the series at the very beginning of Rapp’s covert career. That means they will tap the strong crop of young leading men, much the way that Paramount Pictures signed Chris Pine to re-launch its Jack Ryan series. Consent to Kill will come later.
Zwick is writing the script with partner Marshall Herskovitz, and they will join Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler as producers. Zwick last directed Love and Other Drugs, and Defiance and Blood Diamond before that.
“We were prepping Consent to Kill when Vince told us he was going …