Warners finds new ‘Friends’

Sisman novel sells for high six figures

In another case of a female British author getting wealthy off of Hollywood, Warner Bros. has paid Robyn Sisman high six figures upfront for “Just Friends,” a romantic comedy to be produced by David Heyman.

Deal contains bestseller bonuses for the novel that push the payday past $1 million — and significantly more if the film gets made. It was a preemptive tally strong enough to end the bidding before it really got started. Novel will be published by Penguin U.K.

Heyman, who’s producing “Just Friends,” is also shepherding “Harry Potter,” another novel by a female Brit. The J.K. Rowling series is the studio’s most cherished lit property, with the studio ramping up for a seven-film series with a dozen A-list directors battling to helm the film now that Steven Spielberg has passed on it.

“I’m really thrilled about this project,” said Heyman. “I think it’s a very commercial film.”

Deal also comes as Universal and Working Title gear up for production on the screen adaptation of Brit author Helen Fielding’s bestseller “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” with Renee Zellweger in the title role.

“Just Friends” is a romantic comedy in which a guy and a girl who are best friends decide to shack up platonically. Romantic sparks ensue, but by the time both acknowledged them, he’s slept with the stepsister she loathes, and they part company in a loud breakup.

Heyman, who has a first-look deal with Warner Bros., produced such films as “The Daytrippers,” “Ravenous” and “Juice.” He is developing “Taking Lives,” which Tony Scott will direct and Village Roadshow will finance, and the young-adult pic “Cirque de Freak” as well as “Helium.”

The book was brought into the studio by WB veeps Polly Cohen and Lionel Wigram. The author was repped by CAA along with co-agent Nick Marston of Curtis Brown U.K.

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