Amazon MGM Studios Buys Rights to Best-Selling Children’s Book Series ‘City Spies’ With Plans for Global Film Franchise (EXCLUSIVE)

Amazon MGM Studios, the renamed joint venture of Amazon Studios and MGM, has acquired rights to James Ponti’s popular children’s book series “City Spies” and is developing a film based on the first novel.

The idea is for the initial installment to launch a global franchise, described by the company as a “four-quadrant action-adventure that will delight audiences of all ages and as a universe-building property for the studio.”

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The story follows a 12-year-old coding prodigy, who is recruited by an eccentric MI6 agent to join the City Spies, a team of kids from around the world who feel unnoticed in their own lives. When they’re not at the local boarding school, they are mastering spy skills to go to places in the world of espionage that adults can’t access. The cast and creative team have yet to be set.

Since it’s early in the development process, it is not clear if these movies will play in theaters or land directly on the streaming service, Prime Video. Most of Amazon’s prior original films were either exclusive to the streamer or granted limited theatrical releases. But more recently, tech giants like Amazon and Apple have warmed up to the big screen, as was the case with Ben Affleck’s sports drama “Air,” because it can be used as a marketing tool to promote their respective streaming services. Earlier this year, Amazon Studios reportedly set intentions to spend more than $1 billion annually to produce 12 to 15 new theatrical movies a year.

Ryder Picture beat out several other production companies for rights to “City Spies.” Aaron Ryder and Andrew Swett will produce “City Spies” for Ryder Picture Company with Rachel Rubin co-producing. Ryder, a founding member of FilmNation Entertainment, has produced films such as Sony’s GameStop-stock-inspired “Dumb Money,” Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama “Arrival,” Christopher Nolan’s “Memento,” and the cult classic “Donnie Darko.”

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