EXCLUSIVE: As Deadline told you, Summit Entertainment post-Twilight Saga is continuing to bet heavily on books for its future franchises. Most are conducive to young casts. Now I can report that another young actress to watch is making the transition from TV to movies: CW’s The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev has been cast as Candace in the film based on Stephen Chbosky’s novel The Perks of Being A Wallflower, which the author is adapting for Harry Potter‘s Emma Watson and Logan Lerman as well as Paul Rudd. This was a much sought-after lead role. The 22-year-old Bulgarian-Canadian actress played Mia Jones, the single teenage mother, on Degrassi: The Next Generation, from the show’s 6th to 9th season. She currently plays Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce on The Vampire Diaries and won the ”Young Hollywood Making Their Mark” category at the 12th Annual Young Hollywood Awards. (Disclosure: these awards are owned by my parent company PMC).
Paramount said today that it has optioned Ray Bradbury’s seminal sc-fi short story collection The Martian Chronicles, which loosely revolves around humans colonizing the Red Planet and their conflict with the martians they encounter there. The studio is seeking a writer for the project, which at one point had been in development at Universal.
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has preemptively acquired screen rights to The Boys in the Boat, a nonfiction book by Daniel James Brown about the University of Washington 8-man rowing team that bested the elite schools like Harvard and Yale to represent the United States in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. There, they beat powerhouses England and Germany to win the Gold Medal, prompting Hitler to storm off in disgust. WME made the deal based on a 17-page proposal, and the agency is hot and heavy with several publishing houses for book rights. I’ve heard that Viking and Random House were among those into the bidding last night, which at the time reached $750,000 for North American rights.
EXCLUSIVE: Paul King, whose first film Bunny and the Bull was picked up by IFC for the States, is directing this adaptation of Eva Ibbotson’s children’s book for BBC Films. A writer himself, King has adapted Paddington Bear for Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Warner Bros. Before that he directed the cult BBC comedy series The Mighty Boosh, which is also being turned into a movie. Enda Walsh (Chatroom) is writing the screenplay for Island of the Aunts, a Road Dahl-esque story about three aunts who go around kidnapping unhappy children and bringing them back to an island where they will be loved. This BBC Films project marks the second time Ibbotson, who died last October,
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has acquired screen rights to This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, a novel by Kenneth Oppel. Summit’s Twilight Saga producer Karen Rosenfelt is aboard to produce. The novel will be published by Simon & Schuster in the summer. The action adventure surrounds young Victor Frankenstein and his attempt to save his twin brother, Konrad, who falls gravely ill. Victor seeks out a mysterious old alchemist who sends Victor and his best friend Elizabeth on a dangerous quest to find three rare ingredients needed to create the Elixir of Life, a fabled serum that will give the drinker perpetual health. There are betrayals along the way and a love triangle between Victor, Elizabeth and Konrad. The book is full of insider references involving Mary Shelley and her original Frankenstein novel, and sets up the subsequent storyline for that famous tale. I’m told that Universal–which has plans to remake its classic Frankenstein film with Guillermo del Toro–was also interested, but Summit’s exec team swooped in. ICM repped the film rights for lit agent Writer’s House.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has hired Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan to adapt and direct Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, based on the 1992 John Gray book that highlights the vast differences between men and women, and attempts to bridge the differences. Elfont and Kaplan will turn the title into a romantic comedy, with BermanBraun’s Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman producing.
Gray, whose book has sold over 50 million copies in 45 countries, details the vast gender differences and make suggestions on how to find common ground. Despite that apparent gulf between the sexes, Elfont and Kaplan have done pretty well. They have been creatively collaborating since they met at NYU. They most recently scripted the Amy Adams-Matthew Goode romantic comedy Leap Year, the Patrick Dempsey romantic comedy Made of Honor, and the Ben Affleck-James Gandolfini comedy Surviving Christmas. They’ve directed Can’t Hardly Wait, and Josie and the Pussycats. They are both repped by CAA and Benderspink.
L.A. Screenwriter’s Memoir (About Her Suicide Attempt And Boyfriend Colin Farrell) Turning Into Movie
Ruby Films, the British production company behind Jane Eyre and Tamara Drewe, has optioned Your Voice In My Head, a memoir by Los Angeles-based screenwriter Emma Forrest. Then aged 22, Forrest tried to kill herself before being saved by a New York–based psychiatrist who was secretly dying of cancer. It’s Good Will Hunting meets Girl, Interrupted and “it will make a brilliant film,” Ruby Films boss Alison Owen tells me. But the elephant in the room is that Your Voice In My Head is also about Forrest’s ex-lover, actor Colin Farrell. Never named in the book (he’s referred to only as “GH” – ‘Gypsy Husband’’, she and Farrell were together when she was writing it. She warned him there was going to be a lot of Brit tabloid interest in her book and offered Farrell the chance to read it before publication. He declined. It’s not clear if he now knows the book is being made into a film. It’s not the first time she’s used Farrell for subject matter. Following the break-up of their year-long relationship, she wrote Liars (A-E) about him and other actor boyfriends. It focuses on a woman who’s so swept up by President Obama’s supposedly perfect marriage that she travels across America to the inauguration and stops off along the way asking old boyfriends why they broke up with her. Scott Rudin and the old Miramax bought the script for Richard Linklater to direct, and now Forrest says Rudin wants the project back.
Simon & Schuster today is about to market the heck out of O, its anonymously written and self-proclaimed provocative novel about Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. That’s right — the campaign that hasn’t happened yet. Supposedly, it’s penned by someone “who’s been in the room with Obama”. This is kinda different from Primary Colors, the thinly disguised roman a clef about Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and also written anonymously until journalist Joe Klein came forward to claim responsibility. That novel sold a ton of copies for rival publishing house Random House, and S&S is obviously trying to capitalize on that success. Will Hollywood bite? “We haven’t discussed it with anyone yet, but it’s early, and no one’s read a thing about it until today,” S&S publisher Jonathan Karp just told Deadline.
Primary Colors was deemed a stiff at the box office when Universal made it into a comedy in 1998 with Mike Nichols directing and Elaine May writing the adapted screenplay. Still, that script was nominated for an Oscar along with Kathy Bates for Supporting Actress. S&S is owned by CBS Inc, so maybe Showtime or even CBS Films might get a crack at it first. Meantime, here’s a (satirical) memo Karp just sent his authors:
On January 25, we’ll be publishing a secret novel simply titled O, about President Obama’s campaign for re-election in 2012. The author of the novel wishes to remain anonymous. You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author. If
EXCLUSIVE: Gersh has hired Joseph Veltre to become head of its book department, where he will broker publishing deals and sell books for film and TV. Veltre had spent the past six years running The Veltre Company, and he’ll bring all his clients with him when he joins the Gotham Gersh office on February 1. Veltre’s author clients include Steve Amick (The Lake), Taylor Antrim (The Headmaster Ritual), Jessica Blank (Almost Home), Bob Friel (The Barefoot Bandit), Robyn Harding (Chronicles of a Midlife Crisis), Stephanie Klein (Straight Up and Dirty), Alison Pace (Through Thick and Thin), Jason Pinter (The Mark), Matthew Polly (American Shaolin), David Treuer (The Translation of Dr. Apelles), and Lauren Willig (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation).
Phyllis Wender continues at Gersh, where she had been brokering publishing deals. Veltre fills a void left by Sara Self, who made all the book to movie deals for the agency before she left. Before starting his own company, Veltre had been director of development for Miramax Films and editor-at-large for Miramax Books, and before that was an editor at HarperCollins and St. Martin’s Press. “I’ve been admirer of the agency for years, and this is a great opportunity,” Veltre told me.
Gersh recently bolstered its lit ranks by acquired boutique agency Hohman Maybank Lieb, and it solidified its independent film distribution/finance department by making Jay Cohen a partner and pairing him with producer Jennifer Dana.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has acquired world rights to The Night Circus, a first novel by Erin Morgenstern that will be published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in September. The book is the story of two young prodigy illusionists in the 19th Century who are groomed to battle out their fathers’ age-old rivalry in an enchanted circus created just for their competition. They complicate matters when the young man and woman fall in love.
The book was a much-buzzed about title at the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair. Summit president of production Erik Feig chased it hard, and came away with the rights after a persuasive meeting with lit agent Richard Pine, who had planned to hold meetings with all studios after the holiday. Those meetings were canceled while Pine ‘s Inkwell Management and UTA made a deal that covers both movie and TV rights. The aspiration is to make a film first, and then possibly consider TV options. Pine will be exec producer, and Feig will oversee development with exec Jeyun Choi for Summit.
“The Night Circus sets a spell on the reader from its very first page and we cannot wait to find the right filmmaker and cast to make the world come as inordinately alive as it does in the mind’s eye,” Feig said in a statement.
Fox 2000 has closed a deal that turns the bestselling crime book The Monster of Florence into a star vehicle for George Clooney. Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander are aboard to write the script. Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen of the Jinks/Cohen Company will produce with Smokehouse’s Grant Heslov, and McQuarrie.
Clooney will play Douglas Preston, who wrote the nonfiction bestseller The Monster of Florence with Italian crime reporter Mario Spezi. Preston is a thriller writer who met Spezi after moving to Italy. Together, they set out to solve a 30-year old serial murder case. Seven couples were savagely murdered between 1974 and 1985 while they sat in cars parked just outside Florence. The trail was cold when Preston moved into a nearby farmhouse and began asking questions. By that time, suspects had been let go, and authorities didn’t welcome the curiosity of the writer. They threw Spezi in jail and interrogated Preston. Finally, the sleuths began putting the pieces into place and solved the murder.
The project was pitched to Fox 2000′s Carla Hacken just before the holiday. She and president Elizabeth Gabler got excited enough to seal the deal just before Christmas. The producers had post-holiday meetings set around town, but they proved unnecessary and were canceled. For Clooney, this is another opportunity to make a movie in Italy, which has become his second home. Clooney is directing and starring in The Ides of March, and then joins Sandra …
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired screen rights to Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling new book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The studio is in talks with Francis Lawrence to direct, and wants Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper to write the script. Lawrence, best known for helming I Am Legend, just completed Water for Elephants for Fox 2000, with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz starring.
The studio that rode Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit into the winner’s circle as a film now hopes she’ll work the same magic on the story of the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW. The deal, worth 7-figures if the movie gets made, gives an important second wind to a project that Universal has been trying to make for more than 50 years. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff will produce. Filmmaker (and Zamperini’s son-in-law) Mick Garris is exec producer.
Hillenbrand’s Random House book, currently number 2 on The New York Times bestseller list, fleshes out Zamperini’s survival story in remarkable detail. As a youth, Zamperini transformed from a Depression Era troublemaker into the “Torrance tornado,” a world class runner who became the youngest American to compete on the U.S. team. He ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and though he didn’t medal, Zamperini ran a final lap so fast that Adolf …
EXCLUSIVE: Director Stephen Daldry has set Thomas Horn to play the lead role alongside Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the Eric Roth-scripted adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s acclaimed novel for Warner Bros and producer Scott Rudin. Production begins early next year.
Daldry needed an exceptionally intelligent kid to play Oskar Schell, the bright and precocious 9-year old whose father is killed in the World Trade Center terror attack. The youth finds a key left behind in his father’s belongings, and sets out on a cathartic journey to uncover the lock. Horn is something of a wiz kid himself, making national headlines in October when the 12-year old won first place on Jeopardy!, winning in a $12,000 final wager that brought him $31,800 in prize money. Horn has already signed with ICM, the agency that also reps young thesps Hailee Steinfeld, (a revelation in True Grit), Abigail Breslin and Kodi Smit-McPhee from Let Me In.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain scribes Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana are in the midst of two major period Western feature films projects. They are scripting The Color of Lightning for Ridley Scott to direct at 20th Century Fox, and they are at the center of a new deal at Warner Bros to adapt the S. C. Gwynne book Empire of the Summer Moon into a film that will be directed by Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper. Both projects are produced by Scott Free.
First, they will complete The Color of Lightning, an adaptation the Paulette Jiles book that was published by Harper Collins. Britt Johnson is a freed slave who moves his wife and three children to Texas with dreams of starting a freight business. When he’s away, a raiding party of Comanche and Kiowa kill his oldest son and take his family captive. Johnson spends a winter plotting revenge. The story is loosely based on a factual tale said to be an inspiration for the classic Western The Searchers.
The S.C. Gwynne book Empire of the Summer Moon is certainly more sympathetic to the Comanches. The book is a Braveheart-style epic about the great Comanche warrior Quanah, who held the westward expansion of settlers at bay for 40 years, and led to the formation of the Texas Rangers to fight against them.
Published last summer by Scribner, Empire of the Summer Moon …
Just last week, the literary agent for UK author Patrick Ness was in Los Angeles discussing film rights to his celebrated Chaos Walking children’s book trilogy. “The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say,” is the brilliant opening line of the first book The Knife Of Never Letting Go but Ness’ agent Michelle Kass tells me she has been deliberately holding off selling the rights, despite big Hollywood interest, until after Candlewick published the final book Monsters of Men in September. But Kass admits there are some problems with trying to turn Chaos Walking into the next Harry Potter. “First, the book takes place in a world where everybody can hear everybody else’s thoughts. Second, it has some very adult moments. But I think that the Chaos Walking books could be turned into an astounding film, and it’s not just a children’s film.” Her trip west couldn’t be better timed. It comes just as British Prime Minister David Cameron is exhorting the UK film industry to make more fantasy films based on bestselling British children’s authors, even going so far as to tell the House of Commons: “I think one of the keys to Warner’s success is the Harry Potter film franchise which they have been making. There is a great tip and key for filmmakers here. That is, we have got to make films people want to watch.”
Warner Bros in particular has been searching for another British kids fantasy franchise to replace Harry Potter now that it’s coming to an end. It needs to put something in its $161 million studio facility that will reopen in north London in mid-2012. The studio has just renewed its option on UK educator turned author Joseph Delaney’s children’s fantasy series, The Spook’s Apprentice, which has been in development since 2005 and is now called Seventh Son. Sergei Bodrov has been hired to direct, and Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures are co-financing. They’re co-producing with Lionel Wigram, executive producer of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and a new children’s author himself, and Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road (Clash Of The Titans). The book tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who is apprenticed to a forbidding wizard though I’m told the Warner Bros’ script now concentrates on the 2 teenage characters in the novel. Sounds like they’re making it more Harry Potter-ish.
EXCLUSIVE: With Alex Proyas poised to produce and potentially direct, Summit Entertainment has just closed a deal for screen rights to AMP, a near-future science fiction thriller novel by Daniel H. Wilson. The novel is set in a world where the technology designed to make the disabled whole, turns them into supermen. Deal was low six against seven figures.
It’s the second major happening for Wilson this fall, after Steven Spielberg committed to direct his novel Robopocalypse, about an apocalyptic robot uprising, for DreamWorks. Spielberg will start shooting the Drew Goddard-scripted film in January, 2012 and Disney’s Touchstone will distribute in 2013.
Wilson’s book has been at the center of an auction that has played out over the past several weeks. I’m told that aside from Summit, Working Title and Paramount also chased a novel that has a mix of scifi action and political allegory reminiscent of District 9. Wilson took the Summit deal because he was impressed by Proyas, who’ll shoot the picture at a modest budget in Australia under his Mystery Clock Cinema banner. Wilson is writing the book, and the plan is to hire a screenwriter who’ll take his novel pages and draft them into script form, the way Goddard did while Wilson was scribbling away on Robopocalypse.
AMP was acquired by Doubleday, which will publish Robopocalypse in June, 2011. Stephen Schneider (Area 51) will be an executive producer along …
Catherine Hardwicke is in talks with 20th Century Fox to helm The Maze Runner, an adaptation of the James Dashner young adult novel. Thomas is a teenager who one day finds himself trapped in an enclosed environment along with 60 others. The only hope of escape is a maze that the boys can’t crack–until the first girl shows up with a message that could unlock the puzzle. Ellen Goldsmith Vein is producing.
Hardwicke, who directed the original Twilight, recently wrapped Red Riding Hood for Warner Bros.
As if there aren’t enough crackpot conspiracy theories out there regarding the JFK assassination, now Warner Brothers and Leonardo DiCaprio have optioned yet another book about the tragedy. Bad enough that Warner Bros made Oliver Stone’s nutty 1991 movie JFK starring Kevin Costner. But shame on the studio for timing this latest project — claiming proof that the Mafia was behind it — to the 50th anniversary of JFK’s murder coming up in 2013. Not only is Leo starring but his production company Appian Way will produce. Leo’s PR firm issued a press release about it this morning saying that “an acclaimed director who has previously worked with Leonardo has expressed interest in directing the film”. Marty Scorsese, because of the mob connection? Hard to believe that Steven Spielberg is interested. Or Clint Eastwood, who is directing DiCaprio in the J Edgar Hoover biopic for Warner Bros. Given that this latest JFK assassination conspiracy book is supposed to be based on declassified FBI files, Leo really took his latest role rather seriously:
Los Angeles, CA (November 18, 2010) – Leonardo DiCaprio will star in a feature film based on the non-fiction JFK assassination book “Legacy of Secrecy,” written by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann. DiCaprio will also be producing on behalf of his production house, Appian Way. Warner Brothers, who is responsible for the success of the celebrated film “JFK,” plans to release the DiCaprio
EXCLUSIVE: Fox 2000 has completed its second book purchase in the last two days, acquiring Rebecca Serle’s debut novel Rosaline for Shawn Levy to produce under his 21 Laps banner. (500) Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber will adapt the novel, which provides a new way into the classic story of Romeo and Juliet. This is a contemporary version set in a high school, and the famed love story is told from the vantage point of Rosaline, the jilted ex-girlfriend of Romeo. The scribes wrote Pink Panther 2, on which Levy was executive producer. CAA and Foundry Literary + Media repped the book, which will be published next spring by Simon Pulse. WME reps Levy. The Rosaline sale follows a big deal the label made yesterday to acquire the three-book novel series by Julianna Baggott that starts with Pure, a novel that will be auctioned to publishers Tuesday.