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AGBO to pick Cherry book deal away from competitors, Russo Bros may direct

Not long ago, imprisoned first-time author Nico Walker ran out of phone minutes before he could seal a movie deal for his novel, Cherry, which had been published by Knopf on August 14, 2018. The book, which has been hailed as a cross between Jesus' Son and Reservoir Dogs, takes place in Cleveland and revolves around a young man from an affluent family who marries his hometown girlfriend before joining the Army and shipping out to Iraq. An Army medic, he is unprepared for the grisly reality that awaits him, and the rough and tumble nature of his fellow soldiers who smoke, huff computer duster, take painkillers, watch porn, and get gruesomely injured all too regularly. By the time the soldier returns home, he has an un-diagnosed case of extreme PTSD and has become hooked on the opioids prescribed him. He finds an outlet that forces him to focus and makes him feel the way he did in pressure combat situations: he robs banks.

Today, Deadline has learned that AGBO, the studio established by Joe and Anthony Russo, has placed a $1 million flatout purchase for the book that chronicles Walker's experience as a bank robber struggling against PTSD. Provided that the exclusive negotiation pans out, CHERRY stands to be the first film directed by the duo after wrapping the follow-up sequel to Marvel's AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. The script for CHERRY will be written by Jessica Goldberg (THE PATH, REFUGE), whose recent work includes an adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's novel Exit West for AGBO. Goldberg was also the creator and executive producer of Hulu's THE PATH, a series about a man who converts to a controversial following and suffers from a crisis of faith.

As part of the competitive situation to land the rights to adapt the novel, sources are saying that the Russos have spoken with him directly, after several other suitors placed their bids. At one time, James Franco had been attached to direct, with STRONGER screenwriter John Pollono poised to pen the script. Word has it that Endeavor Content put their name in the hat on behalf of Red Wagon, but the most enticing bid (aside from the one made by the Russos) hailed from Sony, with a vie that could have amounted to more than $1 million. All of that being said, it's the Russos prestige and powerhouse connections that won them the property.

In the end, the future looks bright for Walker, who did not hurt anyone during his spree, and will not be held under the Son of Sam statues. Instead, Walker will have the opportunity to use the money he makes from the deal to start a new life for himself, once his sentence is complete.

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