Oz kid series 'Apprentice' booked at UA


United Artists has paid seven figures to option the film rights for the children's literature series "Ranger's Apprentice."

The studio said that Paul Haggis was in discussions to adapt and direct the first movie of the series, but those negotiations were halted by the writers strike.

The fantasy series by Australian author John Flanagan follows the adventures of an orphan boy named Will who becomes an apprentice ranger and fights to keep the mythical kingdom of Araluen safe from invaders, traitors and other dangers with the help of his master Halt.

Flanagan was an ad copy writer who began writing the book to inspire his bored son to read.

The first book, "The Ruins of Gorlan," was released in Australia in November 2004 and seven months later in the U.S. Seven books have been released to date; the others are "The Burning Bridge," "The Icebound Land," "Oakleaf Bearers," "The Sorcerer in the North," "The Siege of Macindaw" and "Erak's Ransom."

If Haggis' deal is completed, it would be a move into new territory for the filmmaker, who is known for such drama as the Oscar-winning "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" and the recent Iraq War drama "In the Valley of Elah."

Haggis is repped by CAA, Intellectual Property Group and attorneys Richard L. Charnley and Peter Dekom.