"EXCLUSIVE: Over the course of his 900-volume novel series launched by Don Pendleton in 1969, elite anti-terrorist operative Mack Bolan has cracked every conceivable case except one–making it to a movie screen. Bolan, who at one time or another was going to be played by Steve McQueen, Sly Stallone, Clint Eastwood and Vin Diesel, is getting another movie shot. Avatar 4 co-writer Shane Salerno has closed a deal with the author’s estate and Gold Eagle Books giving him the rights to develop the Bolan character for a feature film series.
"Salerno will write and produce, getting underway after finishing co-writing the Avatar sequel with James Cameron. He said his goal is to make a “relevant, grounded and gritty, real-world PG-13 action-drama film series.” He’ll package it with a filmmaker and actor, and then set it up at a studio quickly with the intention to get underway with a trilogy. While the series launched 45 years ago, Bolan has not been forgotten; Salerno said there are more than 200 million copies of the books in circulation.
"Pendleton wrote the first 38 volumes in 11 years, then sold the rights to Worldwide Library and supervised a group of ghost writers who generated two books per month when the series was at its peak. Gold Eagle still publishes 12 new books per year in more than 40 countries, as well as a series of comics, audiobooks and graphic novels. The deal gives Salerno rights to the 38 books Pendleton wrote himself, the 870 or so ghostwritten books, and the spinoff series Able Team, Phoenix Force, SuperBolan and Stony Man. The latter Salerno called Bolan’s version of The Avengers, populated by all the elite fighting commandos from across the world that solve covert missions in the other books.
“We know how mindful Shane is about maintaining the essence of Bolan, a true hero who has touched the minds of readers for decades,” said the author’s widow, Linda Pendleton. “We look forward to ‘Mack Bolan’ being shared to an even larger world audience through film.”
Read more of the article at Deadline.com
August 13, 2014, Los Angeles, PRNNewswire: Source The Story Factory
Excerpt: "[Shane] Salerno's complex, multi-party rights deal, which took more than a year to come together, gives him the rights to the first 38 books written by Pendleton, the more than 700 other books written in the 35 years since by Gold Eagle's army of ghost writers, as well as bestselling spinoff series Able Team, Phoenix Force, SuperBolan, and Stony Man. Similar to superhero comic books, the various Mack Bolan book series cross over, with storylines beginning their lives in one series and resolving in another.
"The highly successful Mack Bolan: Stony Man series brings all of the characters together in an Avengers-like ensemble. Stony Man is comprised of the most elite fighting commandos in the world, handpicked by Bolan from characters across hundreds of different books, who deploy across the globe to combat threats before they become disasters.
"Don Pendleton created a very special character with Mack Bolan in 1969, which is why there are 200 million copies in print today," Salerno said. "Tens of millions of readers around the world have wanted to see a Mack Bolan film for decades. I'm committed to delivering a series of films with strong characters, real-world storylines, intense drama, and the truly remarkable action sequences for which the books have always been known."
"For over 40 years, Mack Bolan has had a long and fascinating Hollywood development history. In 1972, producer Joseph
Levine (The Graduate, A Bridge Too Far) first optioned the bestselling series and developed it for Steve McQueen. Levine hired Richard Maibaum, co-writer of thirteen James Bond films including such classics as Goldfinger and Thunderball, to write the screenplay. Maibaum had also co-written Dr. No, Bond's first film appearance, and the plan was for him to introduce the world to Bolan as he had for Bond. A script was completed and books in the series began to carry the tag "soon to be a major motion picture," but the rights lapsed before a film was made.
"In early 1980s, at the height of his fame, Burt Reynolds announced that he would produce and direct a series of Mack Bolan films. Clint Eastwood, coming off the techno-thriller Firefox, was envisioned for the role of Bolan. The project jumped studios and the rights expired.
"In the late 1980s, following the massive global success of the Rocky and Rambo franchises, Sylvester Stallone announced that he had found his next film hero, Mack Bolan. The film was set to be the first in Stallone's six-year, ten-pic pact with United Artists, with Stallone set to star and write, Joel Silver to produce, and Oscar winner William Friedkin to direct. A two-page Variety ad was taken out by Carolco Pictures for the Cannes film festival, but the picture stalled in development and Stallone moved on to other films.
"After numerous attempts to bring Bolan to the screen (including a Vin Diesel version in 2001 right after the release of The Fast and The Furious), the Pendleton family began to decline advances from a number of major producers, directors, and actors. In this instance, however, they were convinced by Salerno's "extraordinarily comprehensive plan" for creating a Mack Bolan film universe, consisting of a series of Bolan films and spinoffs, beginning with a trilogy."
"Bolan has been imitated in countless books and comic books over the years, but never equaled. The character has also inspired a number of other celebrated cinematic action heroes.
"Don Pendleton, a much decorated veteran of World War II, wrote his first book when he was 33 and didn't turn to full-time writing until he was 40. He was stunned by the success of the Mack Bolan books, which captivated millions of readers around the world. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 67.
"The Pendleton family is represented by IPG and attorney Frank Curtis. Salerno is represented by CAA and attorneys Robert Offer and Shelby Weiser."
Read complete article by Shane Salerno's The Story Factory.
August 18, 2014, Deadline Hollywood: Mike Fleming, Jr.
"EXCLUSIVE: In a pre-emptive deal worth multiple seven-figures for the package, Warner Bros has acquired the Don Pendleton anti-terrorist operative Mack Bolan novel series and will develop it as a star vehicle for Bradley Cooper to potentially play Bolan, and Todd Phillips to potentially direct him. Avatar 4 co-writer Shane Salereno– who acquired the rights to the franchise from Pendleton’s estate — will write the script and produce along with Cooper and Phillips, who earlier this year joined forces and formed a Warner Bros-based producing label. It potentially could be the first action franchise for Cooper, who bulked up to play Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood for Warner Bros. Phillips is next directing Arms And The Dudes, about hapless guys who become arms dealers.
"Considering how late in the summer it is, the package sold with remarkable speed after Deadline wrote that the rights had been pulled together by Salerno and was being shopped after being developed at one time or other as star vehicles for everyone from Steve McQueen to Sly Stallone, Clint Eastwood and Vin Diesel."
Read more of the Fleming article.
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A publishing deal has been made for e-book versions of Don Pendleton's original Executioner Series, and are now published as ebooks by Open Road Media. The ebooks, 1-15 and 17-38 are available at Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Google and indiebooks.
October 2016, Back in Print.
The first THREE books of the original Executioner Series are now in print, published by Open Road Media. War Against the Mafia; Death Squad; Battle Mask.
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August 14, 2014