NL exercises rights to 'Rite'

Book on exorcist school due in '09

NEW YORK -- New Line Cinema has taken possession of "The Rite," the true story of an American priest who studied at an exorcism school in Italy.

Contrafilm's Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson will produce a feature film based on the upcoming nonfiction book by Rome-based journalist Matt Baglio. Michael Petroni signed on to write the adapted screenplay before the writers strike. Fletcher & Parry Films will co-produce with Contrafilm.

Baglio was allowed to follow a young priest during months of training with a senior exorcist at a school affiliated with the Vatican. "Rite," now subtitled "The Making of a Modern Day Exorcist," is set for publication by Doubleday in early 2009.

Although the book is not finished and the screenplay won't be completed until after the strike, the film is expected to include scenes of exorcisms based on the priest's experiences.

Petroni is a natural fit for the material, having written screenplays involving the Catholic Church ("The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys") and the supernatural (Yari Film Group's upcoming "Possession").

Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener and Merideth Finn will oversee the project for New Line. Finn found the project for the studio as a book proposal in early 2007 and acquired it from Baglio's literary agent Christy Fletcher.

Baglio is repped by UTA. Petroni is repped by WMA and Andrew Deane at Industry Entertainment.
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