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Summit Buys Screen Rights To Runaway Bestseller ‘The Shack’

By | Monday April 22, 2013 @ 8:18am PDT
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. Read More »

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Weinstein Co Readying ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ Sequel For May Start

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 2:39pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has set a May production start in Asia on a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. There is a script by John Fusco, and TWC is in talks with veteran Chinese director Ronny Yu. Harvey Weinstein is producing.

The new film is derived from the same source material as the Ang Lee-directed 2000 film that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and three other Academy Awards. Lee isn’t involved in this one, which is based on Silver Vase, Iron Knight. That is the fifth book in the Crane-Iron Pentalogy by Wang Du Lu. Crouching Tiger was the fourth book in the series. Fusco, whose credits include Spirit, Hidalgo and The Forbidden Kingdom, is an avid follower of Wu Sia, the centuries-old genre of Chinese fiction that this series is part of.

“This was an opportunity to explore a lifelong passion I’ve had for Wu Sia, and if there wasn’t continuing source material, I would never have gotten involved,” Fusco told me.

The sequel continues to revolve around Yu Shu Lien, the character played in the original by Michelle Yeoh. It’s not immediately clear yet which actors will reprise, but some likely will. “This introduces a new generation of star-crossed lovers, and a new series of antagonists in a battle of good and evil. It has a Knights Errant quality. There is an alternate universe in the books, a martial forest that exists alongside the real world, full of wandering sword fighters, medicine men, defrocked priests, poets, sorcerers and Shaolin renegades. It’s so vast and rich, and I found characters from the second and third books in the series to create a most interesting stew while being as true to the source material as I could be.”

TWC and Sony had battled several years ago over the rights to the books left behind by the author, who died in 1977. Reports quoted his son, Hong Wang, saying his family made very little money from the original film, and that they went out to make another deal. TWC feels it walked away with those theatrical rights and is going ahead with its film, which has a budget north of $20 million. Read More »

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