‘Alienist’ in limited turnaround

Paramount Pictures has put the film adaptation of Caleb Carr’s bestselling novel “The Alienist” into limited turnaround.

Producer Scott Rudin and writer-director Philip Kaufman have been given 60 days to set up the film at another studio, with Kaufman’s draft and budget, before the project reverts to Paramount.

The studio reportedly is still not satisfied with the screenplay, which has now gone through drafts from three writers. Par also apparently balked at the budget, which sources said was close to $50 million.

Neither Paramount nor Rudin could not be reached for comment.

Purchased for Rudin in 1993, “The Alienist,” which spent about 30 weeks on the New York Times’ bestseller list, was one of Par’s high-profile buys of the year. It also signaled a renewed relationship with Rudin, who had earlier announced his intention to move to TriStar.

After a deal was struck to keep the producer of “The Addams Family” and “Regarding Henry” at Par, the studio paid $750,000 for an outright purchase of the book.

Par has already spent an estimated $1.5 million-$2 million on “The Alienist.” Prior to Kaufman, scripter Steven Katz and playwright David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly”) each were brought in to adapt the novel.

Curtis Hanson, who directed Universal’s “The River Wild,” was originally attached to helm the film in 1995, but a deal with Par was never finalized. Hanson had been developing Hwang’s screen adaptation of the novel, but sources said at the time disagreements involving the budget led to Hanson’s departure.

Random House published the book in April 1994. Set in turn-of-the-century New York, “Alienist” features historical and fictional characters who use the early principles of psychology to track down a serial murderer.

Kaufman co-wrote and directed such pics as “Rising Sun” and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”

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