Liam Neeson to play Matthew Scudder in Lawrence Block’s A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES

Stop me if you have heard this before: Plans are underway to produce a film version of Lawrence Block’s A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES.

Exclusive Media has released the following announcement:

Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures have entered into a three year 50-50 co-financing, co-producing, co-development deal for a minimum of two feature films per annum with budgets up to $65m. All films under this new arrangement will be released theatrically in the US through Cross Creek’s slate distribution deal with Universal Pictures. Exclusive Media will retain and sell international rights to the titles. The announcement was made today by Exclusive Media Co-Chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East and Cross Creek President, Brian Oliver.

Following the partnership on Ron Howard’s RUSH, also to be released through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with Universal Pictures, the first film being produced and financed under this new far reaching arrangement is the thriller A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES starring Liam Neeson (TAKEN). Written and to be directed by Scott Frank (THE LOOKOUT), the film is one of the popular ‘Matt Scudder’ book series written by Lawrence Block.

Double Feature Films partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are producing with Danny DeVito and his company, Jersey Films. Principal photography is set to start in February 2013 on location in New York City.

“We feel like we won the trifecta by getting the one star who is perfect for Scott’s great script that he was born to direct,” said Shamberg and Sher.

Formerly a cop with the NYPD, now an unlicensed private eye and a recovering alcoholic haunted by past mistakes, Matt Scudder (NEESON) is hired to find the kidnapped wife of a drug dealer. He operates just outside the law where the police don’t go to track down the kidnappers, who he discovers have been involved in multiple kidnappings and brutal murders.

“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, among others. We feel very confident to formalise and strengthen our development, financing and production arrangement with Brian and we are thrilled to start this new chapter with such a commercial project,” commented Nigel Sinclair and Guy East

Exclusive Media’s COO Marc Schipper negotiated the development and production deal with Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver. Tobin Armbrust, Exclusive Media’s President of Worldwide Production and Acquisitions will be overseeing the new relationship.

The arrangement also gives both companies the first opportunity right to co-finance and co-produce pictures outside those set for the Universal pipeline.

In addition to the picture by picture financing responsibilities, both companies are jointly creating a six figure revolving development fund to source additional properties.

Alex Walton, Exclusive Media’s President of International Sales and Distribution will introduce A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES to overseas buyers at the Cannes Film Market.

If it actually happens, this could be pretty cool. Frank has done some excellent work in the past with screenplays for OUT OF SIGHT, GET SHORTY, MINORITY REPORT and MARLEY AND ME. He also wrote/directed THE LOOKOUT which starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels. Frank’s screenplay has been the one constant over the years, but this is the first time I have heard any mention of him directing it. I dug THE LOOKOUT and think he could do an excellent job with the tale of the damaged Matthew Scudder.

Cross your fingers that it actually happens.