Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has acquired screen rights to the William Paul Young novel The Shack, with John Fusco aboard to write the script. The film will be produced by Gill Netter through his Netter Productions banner, and Brad Cummings.

The logline: In the aftermath of a devastating personal tragedy, Mackenzie Allen Philips receives a mysterious note in his mailbox inviting him to The Shack. The letter is signed Papa, his wife’s nickname for God. Mack responds and finds himself in the presence of God, and a life-transforming journey of truth, forgiveness, and ultimately acceptance. The book was originally published in 2007 out of a garage by Cummings and Wayne Jacobsen, caught on and has become a global bestseller that has sold over 18 million copies in 39 languages, with 10 million in the U.S. It has ben on The New York Times Bestseller List for more than 180 straight weeks.

It might not be the easiest sounding book to adapt, but is certainly in good hands with Netter, who has a strong track record with heartfelt family fare, even if it takes years to find the handle. Netter struggled for over a decade through the development process on the Yann Martel novel Life Of Pi, and that turned into an Oscar-winning film that grossed north of $600 million worldwide. He also produced The Blind Side and Marley & Me, two other challenging book adaptations that worked well on the screen.

Fusco, meanwhile, has been on a tear. He scripted the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for The Weinstein Company, and his script for The Highwaymen landed at MRC with John Lee Hancock directing and Liam Neeson and Woody Harrelson in talks to star early next year. Fusco was just hired to rewrite Shadow Divers for director Robert Schwentke, Fox 2000 and Scott Free Productions, and he will also adapt the Paulo Coelho novel The Alchemist for TWC, with Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland producing. He also adapted Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley.

Lionsgate Motion Picture president Michael Paseornek will oversee The Shack with Matthew Janzen and Bree Bailey. UTA and Anonymous Content rep Fusco.

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