DreamWorks digs Jackson's 'Bones'

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Peter Jackson's adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel "The Lovely Bones" has found a home at DreamWorks. DreamWorks acquired the package late Friday, beating out Warner Bros. Pictures, Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures.

"Bones," which went out to the town on Monday, generated a lot of heat because of Jackson's name but came under intense scrutiny for the way it was being sent to market. Jackson and his team shopped the script with a budget in the $80 million range, complete with a start of production date and, uniquely, a focus on marketing. Integral to the deal were conversations about release dates and what other films the winning company will have in the same quarter, because Jackson wanted to know how time and attention will be divided between his movie and others.

DreamWorks acquired the package with Film 4, which originally acquired the project, then developed it with Jackson.

Jackson will direct the supernatural drama from a screenplay he co-wrote with Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, his co-writers on "King Kong" and the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. 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 picture is scheduled to begin filming in October in Pennsylvania and New Zealand, and will be distributed worldwide by Paramount.

The book, published in 2002, tells the story of Susie Salmon, a young girl who is murdered but continues to observe her family on Earth after her death. She witnesses the impact of her loss on her loved ones, while her killer skillfully covers his tracks and prepares to murder again.

DreamWorks' acquisition had been predicted by some quarters since Jackson developed a strong relationship with Stacey Snider, DreamWorks' CEO and co-chairman, when he made "Kong" for Universal under Snider's stewardship as chairman. The move also puts Jackson in business with Steven Spielberg. In fact, one reason DreamWorks edged out its competitors was the connection felt for the material by Spielberg, who at one point was eyeing the project.

"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," Jackson said in a statement.

Jackson is repped by Key Creatives and Nelson Felker.
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