Normally, I don’t care about upcoming projects and leave that to the trades. But a Peter Jackson writing/directing project is an event. Sources tell me that today certain Hollywood studios were given the big PJ spec script with Mr. Lord Of the Rings himself attached to helm. It’s an adaptation of The Lovely Bones, the bestseller penned by Alice Sebold. “It went out today to almost everybody and the offers are across the board,” a source tells me. “That’s because there was a cover letter laying out basics like approximate budget, start of photography, etc. It simply wants the studios to make a proposal with no ask. It also wants them as part of the proposal to make a recommendation about release date and inform what competitive titles they’ll have during the quarter of the release date they suggest.” If this sounds very unusual, it is. Because I’m told Jackson wanted the marketplace to determine what the deal should be. Imagine if this started a trend in Hollywood. Who didn’t get a shot at the project? New Line’s Bob Shaye since he’s still being a jerk to Jackson and won’t let him direct The Hobbit. (See my Peter Jackson Answers Lord Of The Rants.) Jackson had acquired the option to The Lovely Bones from UK’s Film Four in February 2004 with the intent to write the screenplay on spec with his partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Since Jackson opted not to have a big overall studio deal, he can now seek the right home for each of his projects. I can report that the response is overwhelming to the very stylized and very dark drama that’s literally haunting: it’s about a ghost. As good as the script is, the final deal for The Lovely Bones, with terms and all, will surely be as big as Jackson’s King Kong-sized talent.
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