Universal picks up 'Knights Templar'

Adam Torchia and Justin Stanley wrote the spec

Universal has picked up the mantle of "The Knights Templar," acquiring a spec script by Adam Torchia and Justin Stanley, for filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov and Marc Platt to produce.

Platt will produce via his Universal-based Marc Platt Prods. while Bekmambetov, the Russian director of the "Night Watch" movies and Universal's upcoming comic-book actioner "Wanted," is producing with Jim Lemley, his partner at Bazelevs Prods.

The script, a period actioner, revolves around the Knights Templar, who fresh from the Crusades fend off an invading vampire army seeking to destroy the Holy Grail.

Torchia is a 10-year veteran of Universal's story department who has been writing on the side. He met Stanley at a wedding several years ago; once they discovered that they were kindred writing spirits, Stanley told him of an idea that a late pal of his, Ian Rothkerch, had for a movie. The duo finished the script in the summer but held off because of the WGA strike, though not before Torchia managed to sell another spec, "Strange Magic," to Alcon.

After the strike, "Knights" made its way to Universal senior vp production Scott Bernstein and Adam Siegel at Marc Platt Prods. Both will oversee.

The deal signals a vote of confidence in "Wanted" by Universal and shows that the studio is keen to keep Bekmambetov in its fold.

Stanley, a one-time production coordinator, was a writer on the low-budget films "Beneath Loch Ness" and "The Shadow Men." His spec "Witchfinders" is in development at Regency. He is repped by the Caren Bohrman Agency.

Torchia is repped by Sleeping Giant Entertainment.