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Justin Simien, Christopher Yost Team for Sci-Fi Caper ‘Heist: Or, How to Steal a Planet’ (Exclusive)

Filmmaker Justin Simien, best known for his breakout feature and Netflix series Dear White People as well as last year’s Haunted Mansion, has teamed up with writer Christopher Yost and Tommy Oliver’s Confluential Films to adapt Heist: Or, How to Steal a Planet, a science fiction crime thriller from Vault Comics.

Simien is attached to direct the feature, which has Yost, a comics author who segued into screen work with Thor: Ragnarok and The Mandalorian, writing the script.

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Oliver will produce along with Wayne Horton, who brought the project to the company, and has a production deal with Confluential.

Damian Wassel and F.J. DeSanto are executive producing for Vault. Simien and Kyle Laursen will executive produce via their banner, Culture Machine.

Created by writer Paul Tobin and artist Arjuna Susini, the comic is set on the planet Heist, home to billions of the worst criminals in the galaxy. The ruling pan-galactic government has no idea what to do with the planet, but a conman named Glane Breld and his band of thieves know exactly what to do with Heist: Steal it. The story follows Breld on his madcap scheme to pull off the biggest heist in the history of the galaxy.

How to Steal Planet wowed me and I’m humbled by the challenge of bringing a genre bending dose of afro-futurism to the culture,” said Simien in a statement.

Added Oliver, “Vault’s How to Steal a Planet is just a good time. I can’t imagine a better duo than Justin Simien and Christopher Yost to bring this to the screen, especially as a part of Confluential’s growing slate of tentpole films from creators of color.”

Confluential’s newly hired senior vp, film & TV Liliane Bedford will oversee the project for the company.

Confluential, which develops, produces and finances across film, TV, unscripted, audio, documentaries and docuseries, was behind the acclaimed HBO doc 40 Years a Prisoner, which Oliver directed as well as produced, and the OWN series Black Love. Last year it saw its doc Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project win the Sundance Documentary grand jury prize and be shortlisted for the Oscars. It also released its Lily Gladstone drama Fancy Dance on Apple last year.

Heist isn’t the first brush with comics for Simien. The filmmaker and his banner are adapting the Geoff Johns-written comic Geiger for Paramount. Culture Machine is also producing the Flashdance series reboot for Paramount+ with the helmer set to direct a contemporary take on the classic Paramount Pictures film. He is repped by CAA and Grandview.

Yost, who recently returned to comics for the first time in over 10 years with the Vault fantasy title Unnatural Order, is repped by Verve and Industry.

Vault is repped by UTA, Industry and Weintraub Tobin.

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