“The Mechanic,” a novella by Ben Mezrich which was serialized by the Boston Globe in May, will be developed into a film by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners with Mezrich writing the screenplay, the author said Tuesday.
It’s not yet clear whether Spielberg will direct the Boston-set mystery , but having his production company guide the translation from page to screen is a dream for Mezrich, he said in a phone interview.
“As someone whose formative years were in the ‘80s, Steven Spielberg, to me, is just iconic. I grew up watching his movies. I think I’ve seen every single thing he’s ever done,” Mezrich said of the director who brought the world “Jaws,” “E.T.” and “Schindler’s List,” among other blockbuster titles.
Mezrich, a best-selling author, has had two other books made into films.
Mezrich’s 2002 nonfiction book “Bringing Down the House,” about MIT students who use their mathematical abilities to win in Las Vegas, was adapted into the 2008 film “21.”
His 2009 book, “The Accidental Billionaires,” about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, was adapted by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher into 2010’s “The Social Network,” which won three Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Sorkin.
But even those accomplishments don’t match the opportunity to work with Spielberg, Mezrich said.
“I’ve wanted to work with him my entire career,” he said, adding later, “My understanding is Spielberg read the book and loved it, and is excited about reading what I hand in. So if I write a great script [Spielberg may direct the film] — that’s my dream obviously. But it’s up to me now, in a lot of ways, which is really cool.”
The irony Mezrich said, is that a couple of months ago, he was stuck at home like everyone else, wondering how he would get through the pandemic , when the Globe approached him about a writing project that turned into “The Mechanic.”
Now Mezrich plans to spend his summer adapting the novella into a screenplay, and he will also expand the story for publication as a novel, he said. Ultimately, he hopes to turn the story into a franchise in both books and films, he said.
“I describe it as a thriller in the vein of . . . ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or ‘National Treasure’ that takes place in the streets of Boston, that revolves around a secret that goes all the way back to our Founding Fathers,” Mezrich said of his story.
The entertainment news site Deadline reported that eight production companies bid on “The Mechanic.”
“This was a heated, heated situation,” Mezrich said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had this many people chasing a project before.”
He added that everyone who expressed interest in the project discussed filming in Boston.
“I would really love to see this shot in Boston,” said Mezrich, who was born in New Jersey but has lived in Boston since the 1980s. “It’s . . . in a lot of ways, a love letter to the city that I love.”
Mezrich expressed gratitude to “the readers in New England who gravitated toward it. . . . Every chapter that came out, there was a bigger audience and there were people talking about it. The fact that there was this whole, giant book group was proof of concept for the story. So people in Hollywood really reacted to that.”