'Cristo' scribe set to tell tale of a young King Arthur

Scribe Jay Wolpert, who penned the action-adventure “The Count of Monte Cristo,” for Spyglass and Disney and the original draft of the upcoming high-profile pic “Pirates of the Caribbean,” for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and the Mouse House, has inked a midsix-figure deal to pen a contemporary film version of T.H. White’s novel “The Sword in the Stone.”

Pic, in the early stages of development, chronicles the early life of King Arthur as a boy before he becomes king. As yet no producer is onboard the project, which will be a Walt Disney Pictures release.

Though project will be a period piece, “Stone” is essentially a coming-of-age story about a boy who must overcome psychological hurdles and self-doubt as well as the challenges of becoming a man. Through a sequence of events and an association with Merlin, he begins to appreciate himself and with enhanced self-esteem prepares for his future life as king of England.

Pic will feature substantial CGI sequences used to illustrate one element of education with Merlin in which he learns lessons in life from various creatures of nature. Project is being overseen at the studio by Buena Vista Motion Picture Group VP Brigham Taylor.

Published in 1958 as a single volume, White’s “The Once and Future King” features a quartet of novels, the first of which is “The Sword in the Stone.” Disney previously tackled the material, making a 1963 animated film version of the first novel and still owns the rights to that property.

Warner Bros. recently optioned the rights to the other three novels in the quartet, with filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, writer-director of the Oscar-nominated drama “You Can Count On Me,” onboard to adapt the property into a workable script, a retelling of the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table for producer Mark Gordon.

Wolpert, a 1960 World Champion Jeopardy player, is repped by Writers and Artists Agency.

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