Past work: Terry Hayes, author of I Am Pilgrim also worked on Mad Max made famous by Mel Gibson.
Make way, Jason Bourne, a new anonymous, globe-trotting intelligence agent is on his way to becoming the next blockbuster drawcard.
Australian author Terry Hayes, who collaborated with George Miller on the Mad Max franchise, has had the rights to his first thriller seized by MGM, which hopes to spin it out into a lucrative series.
I Am Pilgrim opens in New York with the gruesome discovery of a murdered woman, unrecognisable in a bathtub full of sulphuric acid.
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.
From then on, the espionage yarn hurtles around the world on a frantic case that poses a huge threat to US security.
MGM is pinning its next big franchise hopes on the book, which The New York Times said "has more kicks, twists and winks than anything its dusty genre has provided in a long time".
Hayes was born in England but moved to Australia as a child, where he subsequently worked as a journalist, including on The Sydney Morning Herald. He wrote the screenplay with George Miller for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and also rewrote the original Mad Max screenplay as a novel.
Author Terry Hayes. Photo: Helen Nezdropa
His other credits include the Nicole Kidman career-launching thriller Dead Calm, Mel Gibson’s Payback and Cliffhanger, starring Sylvester Stallone.
I Am Pilgrim’s central character is a mysterious figure, a former US spy who wrote the authoritative textbook on forensic criminal investigation and is brought out of retirement to help the murder case. The film takes its title from his codename, Pilgrim.
The book hit The New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller lists and is soon to translated into 20 foreign language editions.
Speaking to Fairfax Media last year, Hayes described the tale as ‘‘an epic race against time to stop a terrorist working at the forefront of modern technology’’.
‘‘When I was writing it, I went through the entire gamut of human emotions,’’ he said. ‘‘There would be nights when I’d think to myself that if it sold one copy I’d be really grateful; and then there were other times when I thought, 'This can really do it'.’’