EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Niccol has been set as the director of The Host, directing his scripted adaptation of the bestselling novel by Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer. The project, which is being shopped here at Cannes by Inferno Entertainment and producers Nick Wechsler and Steve Schwartz and Paula Mae Schwartz, will star Saoirse Ronan.
After resisting overtures to sell the book, Meyer finally entrusted it with the producers, who gave her strong creative input. She chose Niccol originally because she was a fan of his film Gattaca and script for The Truman Show. While Niccol adapted the book into the current script, he exited to make the film Now, which he has completed with Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy starring. The producers went down the road with several directors, but talks with Niccol to return started heating up in recent weeks. Ronan ramped up interest in the film when she was set to star.
Ronan will play Melanie Stryder, one of the last humans putting up a fight against an alien species called Souls. These parasites invade human bodies, fuse to each person’s consciousness and systematically erase their personalities. The story follows Melanie as she is captured by the aliens and implanted by a Soul called Wanderer, something of a legend because of all of the “hosts” she has attached to on numerous planets. Wanderer’s goal is to get Melanie to give up the remaining pockets of humans, but instead the alien finds Melanie to be unique in her unwillingness to surrender her consciousness. Wanderer is so overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories and feelings that she is driven to reconnect with Melanie’s old life, which includes falling for Melanie’s boyfriend. The result is a complex, romantic and emotional human/alien love triangle.
Inferno’s Marc Butan, Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson are executive producers, and Roger Schwartz is co-producer. Inferno and the producers are financing the film, with Inferno kicking off foreign sales this week.
“Having Andrew at the helm for us is incredibly invigorating as he truly shares Stephenie’s vision on this film,” said Kimberly Fox, Inferno’s President of International Sales. “We literally began sales this week and the response from the international community, and from domestic buyers, has been beyond our highest expectations. We expect to have every territory in the world sold out very shortly, and then it’s about getting to the exciting part of making the movie.”
Niccol is repped by CAA. Inferno is currently in pre-production on Chuck Russell’s Arabian Nights, a film that will star Liam Hemsworth, and is in post production on: the Andrew Dominik’s Cogan’s Trade with Brad Pitt; the Joe Carnahan-directed The Grey with Liam Neeson; and the Gary McKendry-directed Killer Elite, which stars Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro.