Filmmaker Justin Simien, best known for his Netflix series Dear White People as well as 2023’s  Haunted Mansion, has announced a collaboration with writer Christopher Yost and Tommy Oliver’s production company, Confluential Films, to adapt a science fiction crime thriller from Vault Comics; Heist: Or How to Steal a Planet.

Simien has signed on to direct the film, with Yost, who has worked on multiple Marvel TV and movies including Thor: Ragnarok and The Mandalorian, writing the script.

Oliver will produce along with Wayne Horton, who brought the project to the company and has a production deal with Confluential with Damian Wassel and F.J. DeSanto executive producing.

Heist: Or How to Steal a Planet, was originally created by writer Paul Tobin and artist Arjuna Susini and released in the fall of 2019. The comic is set on the planet Heist which is home to billions of the worst criminals in the galaxy. The ruling government is vexed about what to do with the planet and its inhabitants, but a conman named Glane Breld and his band of thieves know exactly what to do with Heist: steal it. The story follows Breld and his “team” on his chaotic plan to pull off the biggest heist in the history of the galaxy.

In discussing his reasons for joining the project, Simien stated 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”.

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 of film & TV Liliane Bedford will oversee the project.

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 Simien set to direct a contemporary take on the classic Paramount Pictures film. He is repped by CAA and Grandview.

A little more about Heist

Heist: Or How to Steal a Planet is a comic series created by Paul Tobin and Arjuna Susini, following the adventures of Glane Breld, a con artist with a plan to steal the planet Heist. The story combines elements of science fiction and humor, as Glane assembles a team of fellow criminals to execute his plans. Praised for its fast-paced storytelling and witty dialogue, Heist: Or How to Steal a Planet has been praised by both readers and critics alike.