DEADLINE | by Geoff Boucher June 27, 2019
EXCLUSIVE: Assemble Media has scored its first win in the IP creation game with Player vs Player. The New York company just sold the book rights to Bloomsburyafter a heated auction that concluded with a two-book, six-figure deal in place for the YA project described as “a modern take on Romeo and Juliet set in the world of E-Sports.”
The books will be written by first-time novelist Alexis Nedd, a senior entertainment reporter for the website Mashable, but the concept for Player vs. Player was generated in-house at Assemble under an initiative that began with the hiring last summer of Brendan Deneen for the freshly created post of President of Literary and IP.
“Alexis is an incredible talent with a unique, relevant, and strong voice that matched our vision perfectly,” said Deneen, who came to Assemble after an eight-year stint as Macmillan Entertainment’s Executive Editor setting up a long list of book-to-screen deals for film and television.
Assemble principal Jack Heller and Deneen led the development and sale of Player vs. Player as a literary property and they are now actively developing a screen adaptation as well. In Bloomsbury, they have a publishing partner with recent YA bestsellers such as A Curse So Dark and Lovely and the Throne of Glass series.
“When we first read Player vs Player, our reaction was immediate enthusiasm,” said Claire Stetzer, the Assistant Editor at Bloomsbury for the acquisition. “We’re delighted to have Alexis and Assemble join our growing roster of exemplary fantasy and contemporary fiction for teens.”
“It is a thrill to have our first homegrown title picked up with such passion by Bloomsbury,” Heller said.
Player vs. Player is positioned to tap into the rapidly expanding success story of e-sports, which have transformed video game competition into a new-gen spectator sport that already has millions of fans and billions of dollars up for grabs thanks to the reach of streaming services. A community of once-anonymous gamer savants have been elevated to international stars who can score seven-figure earnings in competition and far more in endorsements.
Assemble actively is developing other book projects, with a focus on unique voices and commercial concepts, that they will concurrently develop for film, television, and digital. Deneen said Nedd (who work has also appeared in Elle, Marie Clare, and Buzzfeed) is an example of one of those voices.
“Player vs. Player was a perfect synergy of concept and author,” Deneen said. “And with multiple other books currently in development at Assemble, we’re confident that this is the first of many such synergies that will cross the spectrum of genres,”
Heller and Assemble are producers on Gia Coppola’s Mainstream, starring Andrew Garfield, Maya Hawke, and Nat Wolff, and is entering pre-production on AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Zelda Williams directing.
Nedd is represented by Steven Salpeter at Curtis Brown Ltd.