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Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment are producing for Universal Pictures and Ross is already attached to direct. Imagine’s Anna Culp is executive producing.
Set in California’s Salinas Valley before World War I, the 1952 novel tells of two families over the course of two generations, loosely alluding to the biblical tale of Cain and Abel, focusing on a father, his two sons, and the children’s mother, whom they thought was dead.
The book was famously adapted as a 1955 James Dean movie directed by Elia Kazan. That movie focused on the second half of Steinbeck’s book and on the second generation.
Universal first acquired the rights to the project in 2004 after the book was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club list. The option lapsed and the producer and studio had to go back to the estate to regain the rights.
Universal and Imagine reacquired the rights in September, this time with Ross attached to direct and Lawrence, whom Ross directed in the first Hunger Games film, attached.
That Ross is sitting down in front of the keyboard isn’t a big surprise as he has written each of the last three films he’s directed – 2012’s The Hunger Games, 2003’s Seabiscuit and 1998’s Pleasantville.
Ross is repped by CAA and attorney Alan Wertheimer.
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