US talent and literary agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has struck an innovative first-look deal with Bloomsbury Publishing, a leading UK independent publisher with a portfolio that has yielded The English Patient, The Piano and Shine.
Under the terms of the deal, Bloomsbury will filter the manuscripts it believes have most publishing and film potential to CAA, which will represent the properties to US studios and its roster of talent and film-makers. Bloomsbury and CAA will split the commission when film rights are sold, with literary agents also taking their traditional cut when applicable.
CAA is understood not to have any similar pacts with UK publishers, while Bloomsbury has until now never taken a cut from film adaptations of its properties, although film successes have boosted sales.
Bloomsbury now aims to become as much a seller of rights as a publisher of books.
While the company's publishing output of 300 titles a year from up to 40,000 submitted manuscripts is not vast, Bloomsbury has caved out a reputation for quirky but commercial properties.
Bloomsbury is also rapidly expanding its children's publishing activities following the success of the best-selling Harry Potter series. David Heyman's UK-based Heyday Productions snapped up the first in the series, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, which Steven Spielberg may direct.
"If another book of this tremendous potential comes along we will now be in a position to do the deal," said Bloomsbury's chief executive Nigel Newton.
Bloomsbury's share price has risen five times in the past year following an alliance with software giant Microsoft Corp to produce reference works in print and electronic form.