Paramount, Jerry Bruckheimer Land YA Action-Thriller 'The Cruelty' (Exclusive)

S. Bergstrom’s 2014 self-published book centers on a young woman who travels to the dark underbelly of Europe to rescue her father.
'The Cruelty'   |   Courtesy of NuCodex Publishing
S. Bergstrom’s 2014 self-published book centers on a young woman who travels to the dark underbelly of Europe to rescue her father.

In a competitive situation, Paramount and Jerry Bruckheimer have nabbed the rights to YA action-thriller The Cruelty, written by S. Bergstrom.

While many book deals see Hollywood nabbing the rights during the galley or proposal stage, this one concerns a 2014 novel that hit studios only last week. The book previously was self-published but made its debut at last week's Frankfurt Book Fair where it was a hit with foreign buyers. It has no U.S. publisher at this stage. 

The book centers on 17-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom who sets off across the dark underbelly of Europe to rescue her father, a kidnapped diplomat. She plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking as she journeys from the slums of Paris to the nightclubs of Berlin to finally face off against the most feared crime family in Prague. It has been described as having shades of Taken and La Femme Nikita.

The Cruelty is Bergstrom’s debut novel. The author hails from the ad agency world where he was a copywriter and a creative director. He also has written about architecture and urbanism. Bergstrom is already writing the next book in what could end up being a trilogy, if not more. That, of course, opens the door to a possible film franchise, something that studios find attractive. 

The story is set in modern day, and its heroine grapples with questions of morality and violence as she has to decide to what lengths she'll go to save her father. Kohner Agency repped the book in the deal.

Paramount's Daniele Bernfeld will oversee Cruelty for the studio.

The deal comes as one YA franchise, The Hunger Games, is about to end its run with the final film hitting theaters in November. Female-centered stories have been a hot commodity recently, as studios try to hunt down what could be the next big YA franchise. Post-apocalyptic settings may have hit their zenith in terms of freshness (Fox has its Maze Runner series, Lionsgate still has its Divergent franchise and Focus is hoping to score with Scorpio Races), and love and death dramas are hit or miss at the box office, but Cruelty could offer up a new avenue if done right. 

Bruckheimer signed a three-year first-look deal at Paramount in April 2014 after 20 years at Disney. He's producing the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales at Disney, and he’s developing Top Gun 2 at Paramount.