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The Equalizer producer Alex Siskin has acquired film rights to Matthew Pearl’s book The Technologists, a thriller set in 1868 about the first class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Pearl will adapt the screenplay, which takes place after an unnatural disaster strikes the ships in Boston Harbor and an equally inexplicable catastrophe devastates the heart of the city, sparking an anti-science backlash that casts a pall over MIT and threatens its very survival. The best and brightest from the college’s first graduating class secretly join forces to save innocent lives and track down the truth.
Sony-based Siskin, who also has a film adaption of I Dream of Jeannie in the works, is producing The Technologists with Monte Young, who specializes in projects for China and is making China Black Chamber with Fundamental Films and Mark Johnson.
Siskin discovered The Technologists during the 2013 production on The Equalizer, which shot in Boston, where Pearl is based. Siskin’s attorney, Ben Reder, a Boston native, mentioned Pearl’s book, which had recently published.
“There’s a lot of complicated stuff in the story of The Technologists, and that’s part of its attraction,” Siskin said. “It has all of our current obsession and anxiety about technology, completely current themes and characters, including terrorism, but it has superb historical detail and sophistication.”
Siskin has an Equalizer sequel in the works at Sony, with Denzel Washington returning as retired agent Robert McCall. The film has been dated for Sept. 29, 2017. The first Equalizer earned $192 million worldwide.
Pearl is the author of five novels, which have been international best-sellers translated into more than 30 languages, beginning with his literary thriller The Dante Club. His nonfiction writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Atavist Magazine.
In March, Amazon acquired feature film rights in a competitive situation to Ku Klux Klan drama K Troop, based on a Slate article by Pearl. That film has Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to produce and potentially star.
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