Lionsgate picks up rights to Gaghan pic

'Syriana' writer-director set to produce, direct action thriller

Lionsgate has acquired worldwide distribution rights to the next film from writer-director Stephen Gaghan.

Gaghan, who last wrote and directed the political drama "Syriana," will direct and produce the untitled action thriller about an elite deep cover operative who becomes a Brooklyn beat cop and fights a global organization. Gaghan is co-writing the screenplay with Shannon Burke.

Lionsgate executive Wolfgang Hammer brought the project to the studio and will oversee with production president Alli Shearmur. Allyn Stewart and Kipp Nelson will exec produce.

"Joe (Drake, co-COO and Lionsgate motion picture group president), Alli and Wolfgang believe in putting the filmmaker at the center of the process," Gaghan said, "and they've built a next-generation business model that allows filmmakers to participate as true partners in the economic value they're generating."

The WME-repped Gaghan won an Oscar for his screenplay for "Traffic." He also wrote and directed "Abandon" and worked on the scripts for "Rules of Engagement," "The Alamo" and "Havoc." He has been developing an adaptation of "Blink" from the nonfiction book by New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell.

Burke worked with Gaghan on "Syriana" and "Abandon" and has published several novels, including "Black Flies," which producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura is developing at Paramount.

Lionsgate most recently released "Gamer" and "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself," which has so far grossed $37.7 million at the boxoffice. The company will release "Saw VI" on Oct. 23.