Fishburne, Weinstein bring 'Alchemist' to life

Actor to direct $60 mil screen adaptation

CANNES -- Laurence Fishburne and Harvey Weinstein are joining forces to bring Paulo Coelho's novel "The Alchemist" to the screen in a $60 million-plus film adaptation.

First published in Brazil in 1988, the best-selling novel tells the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who while traveling the world in search of treasure meets an alchemist, to be played by Fishburne. The actor will also direct and produce.

The project had been in development at Warners for years, but Weinstein has now stepped in, picked up all rights, and will personally produce the film for the Weinstein Co. Glen Basner, Weinstein Co. International president, will handle global sales.

Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group packaged "Alchemist" on behalf of client Fishburne, with Paradigm's Sam Gores joining Weinstein at the Majestic Beach Sunday to announce the project, which will shoot in late spring or early summer of next year in locations around the world.

Weinstein plans to bring on a screenwriter and conduct a casting search for the roles of Santiago and Fatima, the woman with whom the young man falls in love.

In addition to Weinstein and Fishburne, producers will include Fishburne's producing partner Helen Sugland for their production company Cinema Gypsy. Paula Weinstein, Kathy Morgan and A-Mark Entertainment's Steven Markoff and Bruce McNall are on board as exec producers.

"This is one of those great turnaround situations," Weinstein said of the project's long gestation. "The book means so much to people on a spiritual level, and there is an exciting love story, action." He also said, "I think there is a bridge to the Middle East in this story.