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BERLIN – T.C. Boyle’s 1982 classic Water Music may finally be heading to the big screen thanks to Munich production house Lieblingsfilm, which has acquired adaptation rights.
Christian Zubert, a writer-director best-known for his German-language comedies Three Quarter Moon (2011) and Lammbock (2001), is adapting the novel with an eye to setting up the project as an English-language international co-production. The German Federal Film board gave the film its first official boost, approving a $33,000 (€25,000) subsidy to support the development of the screenplay.
Water Music has been optioned several times but previous efforts to make a film of the book’s complex story – involving a 18th century Scottish explorer trying to find the source of Africa’s Niger River – had come to nothing. When the rights lapsed, Lieblingsfilm was able to snatch them up.
“I managed to get T.C. Boyle’s email address and wrote him,” Lieblingsfilm managing director Robert Marciniak told The Hollywood Reporter. “Our vision of the film convinced him. He said Water Music was a very European book, which might explain why previous efforts to make it into a Hollywood film had failed.”
Marciniak said he hopes to have a draft of the Zubert’s script by next summer, when he will start shopping the project around to potential co-producers. So far there are no plans for Zubert to direct the film. A budget has not yet been set, though Zurbert said it would be big in European terms, though not blockbuster-sized.
“Twenty to thirty years ago, if you wanted to adapt this book faithfully, it would have likely cost $100 million but now, with digital technology, the cost has come down a lot, making it more feasible to set up as an independent co-production,” Zubert said.
Lieblingsfilm certainly has experience in producing mainstream commercial films in Germany. Recent productions include YA fantasy feature Ruby Red, which grossed some $4.6 million locally. The company is currently in post on two new features which Fox co-produced and will release in Germany: the children’s film Rico, Oskar und die Tieferschatten and the American Pie-style teen sex comedy Doktorspiele.
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