Studio pulling all stops

Nearly 40 years after the studio mounted its first adaptation of the work, 20th Century Fox is set to return to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s romantic epic “Tender Is the Night.”

Fox, which released the 1962 bigscreen adaptation, owned half of the novel’s film rights but the other half had reverted to the Fitzgerald estate, with which the studio had to negotiate a deal for the outstanding rights.

With the rights now under control, Fox is understood to be going straight to directors who can then develop it with a writer.

While Fox’s 1962 version of the novel (which starred Jennifer Jones and Jason Robards under Henry King’s direction) was viewed as a watered-down version of Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical novel, Fox hopes to pull out all the stops with this remake.

First published in 1934 (nine years after Fitzgerald began writing it), “Tender” is the story of the psychological disintegration of a young, wealthy American couple on the French Riviera in the 1920s.

The studio is eyeing the pic as a sweeping romantic saga that will attract A-list stars for the roles of Dick (think Leonardo DiCaprio) and Nicole Diver, the American expatriates.

Fox exec veepee Peter Rice is overseeing the project for Tom Rothman’s 20th division.

In addition to the bigscreen version, the BBC produced a five-part miniseries chronicling the passionate but soul-destroying romance between the Divers, portrayed by Peter Strauss and Mary Steenburgen. Showtime aired that version in the U.S.

Wendy Schmalz of Harold Ober & Associates brokered the deal on behalf of the Fitzgerald estate.

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