DreamWorks Studios in association with Film 4 has acquired The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Alice Sebold best-selling novel, it was announced today by Stacey Snider, CEO and Co-Chairman of the Studio.
Peter Jackson will direct the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. Carolynne Cunningham, Jackson, Walsh, and Aimee Peyronnet will serve as producers. Executive producing will be Film 4’s Tessa Ross, Ken Kamins and Jim Wilson.
The Lovely Bones has been one of the most sought-after properties in recent years. It tells the story of Susie Salmon, who is murdered, but continues to observe her family on Earth after her death. Although she is detached from the world she once knew, Susie witnesses the impact of her loss on her loved ones, whilst her killer skillfully covers his tracks and prepares to murder again. In a tone that is both emotionally truthful, and darkly humorous, Susie tries to balance her desire for vengeance against the love she feels for her family and her need to see them heal; and ultimately comes to understand that the concept of family can encompass both the living and the dead.
The picture is scheduled to begin filming in October in Pennsylvania and New Zealand, and will be distributed worldwide by Paramount.
The Lovely Bones was published in 2002 and was Alice Sebold’s second novel. The book has sold over ten million copies worldwide and remained on the New York Times hardback bestseller list for over a year. In 2003, Sebold won the Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction from the American Booksellers Association.
“We are thrilled that DreamWorks Studios has been able to acquire the film rights to this story that has captivated so many people,” said Stacey Snider. “In the hands of Peter Jackson, we have a master of cinematic storytelling to bring it to the screen.”
“When you read an emotionally magical story that cries out to be turned into a major motion picture, you hope its winding path can find its way to the door of your own company,” said Steven Spielberg. “Peter Jackson has made this possible and I am so grateful to him, Fran and Film 4 for giving ‘The Lovely Bones’ a home at DreamWorks.”
“Alice Sebold’s story affects readers in deeply personal ways and the most important consideration for me was finding a studio partner who felt an equally strong connection with the book. Not just in sharing our emotional reaction to the story, but our desire to see it told in an original, adventurous way on screen,” said Peter Jackson. “I eagerly look forward to the days and months ahead with Stacey, Steven, Adam Goodman and the team at Dreamworks.”
“Film 4 have been nurturing this project for over five years,” said Tessa Ross of Film 4. And now, to end up with Peter, Fran, Philippa and Dreamworks all together, is really as good as it gets. All of us at Film 4 are over the moon.”
“All of us at DreamWorks join in welcoming Peter into our family of creative filmmakers,” said Adam Goodman, DreamWorks’ President of Production. “We look forward to working with him and giving him all the support that he and his team need and deserve.”
Peter Jackson is one of the most successful filmmakers working today having directed, written, and produced the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy which combined have grossed almost $3 billion at the box office, been nominated for 30 Academy Awards, and won 17 Oscars including Best Picture for the third film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Jackson personally took home Oscars for his direction and writing in “The Return of the King,” as well as for Best Picture. In 2005, he directed, wrote and produced King Kong, for Universal. The film grossed over $500 million and won three Oscars.
Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh are frequent co-writers and producers with Peter Jackson. They have previously collaborated on the scripts for all three “Lord of the Rings” films and King Kong, as well as serving as producers on each of those films. Boyens and Walsh, like Jackson, were also honored with Oscars for their writing on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, with Walsh also winning for song writing and producing.