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Hugh Laurie will star in an adaptation of the best-selling Lloyd Jones novel Mr. Pip. Andrew Adamson (Shrek 2) has written the screenplay and will direct and produce.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Mr. Pip tells the story of the last white man left on the war-torn island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, who reopens a school and reads his favorite novel, Great Expectations, to the students, inspiring a gifted 14-year-old named Matilda. The filmmakers plan to begin filming in New Zealand and on location on Bougainville in May.
“I read Mr. Pip on a transatlantic flight and, by the time of landing, knew I would make this film,” said Adamson, who first optioned the film rights. “It’s a testament to Lloyd’s wonderful novel that it has captured the hearts of Hugh, Robin, Leslie and an incredible group of like minded collaborators.”
Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech of Olympus Pictures (Rabbit Hole) are financing and producing the project with Robin Scholes’ Eyeworks New Zealand and Agio Capital. The New Zealand Film Commission, NZ on Air and New Zealand Television Network TV3 are also investing in the project.
James Dean of Agio Capital will serve as an executive producer along with Daniel Revers of Deer Path Prods., Julie Christie, Tim White and Tim Coddington.
“From the first words of the novel, and the first image of the screenplay, I was hooked on Mr. Pip,” said Laurie. “It’s an immensely touching, unique, yet completely unsentimental story of love. It is unlike any script I have read, or any story I have ever heard. Plus I get to go to Papua New Guinea and call it work. I am a very lucky man.”
UTA’s Independent Film Group, which is representing North American rights, helped to secure financing and packaged the film. Focus Features International is repping foreign sales in Cannes. Transmission Films and Paramount Pictures will distribute the film in New Zealand and Australia.
UTA’s Rena Ronson negotiated the deal with Urdang, and Alison Thompson on behalf of FFI.
The UTA-repped Adamson most recently co-wrote and directed The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He is currently directing and producing a 3D Cirque du Soleil project.
The WME-repped Laurie stars on the Fox series House and most recently voiced a role in the animated film Hop.
Olympus has recently produced the independent pictures Adam, Rabbit Hole and Beginners, which Focus will release in June. The company has The Oranges forthcoming, with Laurie in a lead role.
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