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British filmmaker Amma Asante, whose 2014 film was such a breakthrough not only for her but also for her star Gugu Mbatha-Raw, has signed on to direct a film based on David E. Hoffman’s political thriller THE BILLION DOLLAR SPY with Walden Media and Weed Road producing, the Tracking Board confirms.
Adapted by screenwriter Ben August, the film will be produced by Walden with Akiva Goldsman and Weed Road’s Greg Lessans serving as exec. producer. Naia Cucukov will oversee the project for Walden.
Hoffman’s novel tells the true story of Adolf G. Tolkachev, the man who would become the Pentagon’s most valuable spy towards the end of the Cold War. Tolkachev was the chief designer of the USSR’s Research Institute of Radio Engineering, who managed to sneak classified documents to the United States. He then became the CIA’s top spy as he and his handler alluded the KGB.
Hoffman won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his book The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, and he’s a regular contributing editor to The Washington Post.
It’s an interesting time for a Cold War thriller following last year’s Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron and the current Fox film Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence. Neither film did gangbusters at the box office, but there seems to be enough interest in US-Russian relations in general that the Cold War is becoming a hot topic in Hollywood.
Asante’s last film A United Kingdom, starring David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016, where it was picked up by Fox Searchlight for release in 2017. She also directed A Way of Life back in 2004, and she will also direct the war romance Where Hands Touch, starring Amandla Stenberg. Asante was honored with the MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from the Queen of England for her services to film, and she is represented by Mosaic and United Agents.
Walden Media is coming off its global hit Wonder, based on the novel by R.J. Palacio, which has grossed more than $300 million, and Walden also helped turn C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia into a trio of worldwide hit films.
Assante’s involvement with the project was first reported by Deadline.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor