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Michael Gracey, a former animator turned commercials director, has closed a deal to direct Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Universal’s adaptation of the young-adult fantasy book by Laini Taylor.
Joe Roth, the producer of Oz the Great and Powerful and Universal’s own Snow White and the Huntsman, is producing the project (which the studio picked up in December 2011) along with Palak Patel.
Universal is clearly hoping to strike gold mining the young adult market. Smoke & Bone is the first of a trilogy and was quite the acclaimed hit when published in September 2011. It finished the year as Amazon’s No. 1 teen book and landed on several year-end lists, including Publishers Weekly‘s Best Books of 2011, Huffington Post’s Top 10 YA Book of 2011 and The New York Times‘ Notable Children’s Books of 2011. The book was also Amazon U.K.’s No. 1 YA book in 2012 and winner of an Audie Award for best fantasy audio book.
The second book, Days of Blood & Starlight, was a New York Times and USA Today best-seller and was named a Best Book of 2012 by Amazon and Publishers Weekly, as well as the “next big thing” by Wired Magazine.
The final book in the trilogy, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, will be released in spring 2014 and has already been sold in 13 foreign markets.
Smoke & Bone tells the tale of a 17-year-old art student whose father occasionally sends her on errands around the world collecting human teeth for a mysterious purpose. The young woman gradually becomes aware that she is part of an ancient struggle between devils and angels and finds herself in a forbidden romance with a warrior angel.
Stuart Beattie (Collateral) adapted the screenplay, with additional rewrites by Taylor. (Taylor is also exec producing with her manager and producing partner, Jane Putch.)
Repped by CAA, Partizan and attorney Bob Wallerstein, Gracey has several projects in development, including and The Greatest Showman on Earth, starring Hugh Jackman. The movie that is likely to be his feature debut is Rocketman, an Elton John biopic with Tom Hardy attached to star as the singer-songwriter.
VP production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Sara Scott are overseeing the project for Universal.
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