Times Staff Writer

The deal

CBS Films options the rights to novelist Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp character, a post-9/11 hero who battles terrorism and the threat of war in the Middle East, the U.S. and other international hot spots.

The players

Flynn is represented on literary rights by Sloan Harris and on film rights by Ron Bernstein, both of ICM. Nick Wechsler (“North Country”) and Lorenzo di Bonaventura (“Transformers”) are producing the film. The books are published by Simon & Schuster.


The back story

If there’s one word that has worn out its welcome in the film and book worlds, it’s “synergy.” Few of the crusades to link book publishing and film adaptations under the same corporate roof have succeeded in recent years because these plans are difficult to impose from above. So when a deal comes along that marries both ends of the process in one company, it’s an event. That’s the case with Flynn’s novels, for which Simon & Schuster and CBS Films, both part of CBS Corp., joined forces on a literary acquisition and film option deal “that goes right to the same bottom line,” according to Carolyn K. Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster.

Flynn’s Mitch Rapp novels have been popular, with more than 10 million copies in print, and the publisher was pushing a deal to sign up his next four titles. But when Reidy floated the idea of a film option to Amy Baer, her counterpart at newly created CBS Films, the payoff got bigger. Baer, looking to make films in the $50-million range, wanted to develop an action-hero franchise. The eight Mitch Rapp books fit the bill. The corporate link made it even more enticing. “Simon & Schuster is a huge playground for movies,” Baer said. “It was a natural for us.”

But the deal had to make sense for Flynn. “It was significant that CBS Films doesn’t have a huge backlog of films on its slate, so we weren’t competing with a lot of other projects,” Bernstein said.


That sweetened the deal for ICM. “Once you get past the hangover of all the talk about synergy, a deal like this is still possible when passion is shared across corporate divisions,” Harris said. Or as Reidy put it: “This is the kind of thing that we’re all looking for. These books are a great, untapped franchise.”