The long-gestating adaptation of Mark Greaney’s thriller novel The Gray Man has changed hands. The story follows a former CIA operative and current assassin who must fight his way across Europe, past special forces teams, in order to save the life of his handler. The project was set up several years ago with James Grey directing and Brad Pitt attached to star, but it languished in development hell as Grey and Pitt became busy with other films. The rights recently lapsed, producers Joe Roth and Palek Patel subsequently swooped it up, and now Sony Pictures is in control of the property and Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo have been attached to write and direct.
Hit the jump for more on The Gray Man movie, which is being planned as the first in a potential franchise.
The folks over at Variety report that Joe and Anthony Russo have been attached to write and direct the adaptation of The Gray Man for Sony Pictures. Greaney’s novel is the first in a four-part series and the studio has also optioned the other books, as they envision The Gray Man as the start of a new Bourne Identity-esque franchise.
The Russo Brothers had a solid resume of TV work (Arrested Development, Community) before Marvel tapped the duo to helm the Captain America sequel. The resulting film, The Winter Soldier, opened this past April to big box office and positive reviews, leading Marvel to waste no time in signing the Russos to direct Captain America 3. The superhero follow-up has a release date of May 6, 2016 so that will be their next film, but The Gray Man is considered a priority for Sony. As soon as the Russos deliver the script for the adaptation, Roth says they will begin to seek out a male lead to attach to the film.
The Russos made no secret of the fact that 1970s political thrillers heavily influenced The Winter Soldier, and The Gray Man treads familiar territory. Their previous work was mostly within the comedy genre, but they showed promise with their handling of the action-oriented scenes in the Captain America sequel, particularly the more intimate fight scenes. With that in mind, I’m interested to see how they handle the more adult and international tone of The Gray Man.