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Warner Bros. won a heated bidding war for the movie rights to Uprooted, the new fantasy novel from Hugo Award-nominated Naomi Novik, the author behind the dragon-laced Temeraire book series.
Making a rare foray into features with the tome is Ellen DeGeneres, who will produce the adaptation with Jeff Kleeman. Kleeman, her partner at A Very Good Production banner, identified the book and brought it to DeGeneres.
Warners beat out Lionsgate and Fox 2000 for the book, with dealmaking happening over the weekend.
With Uprooted, which was released on May 21, Novik taps into her Polish roots to tell a YA story with tendrils in fairy and folk tales.
The plot centers on a young woman named Agnieszka, who lives near the border of an evil wood, with only a wizard named Dragon who seems to keep the danger at bay. The price for the man’s protection is that a woman from the village is sent to serve him for 10 years, and to everyone’s surprise, the rather plain Agnieszka is selected. Thus the adventurous journey begins.
The story has been described as imbued with shades of Beauty and the Beast and Howl’s Moving Castle, the 1986 fantasy novel later turned into an animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki.
Niija Kuykendall and Julia Spiro will oversee the project for the studio.
Novik has had brushes with Hollywood before. Her award-winning Temeraire book series was optioned by Peter Jackson in 2006.
DeGeneres and Kleeman continue to build a strong presence in television, with upwards of six shows in production or on the air. The Uprooted deal marks the first significant move into features.
DeGeneres is repped by ICM Partners. Novik is repped by Cynthia Manson Literary Agency.
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