Pic gets new helmer, producer after long budget dispute

Paramount and DreamWorks have set Brad Silberling to direct “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” the adaptation of the books that will star Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf.

Silberling replaces Barry Sonnenfeld, who left the film last month, when Paramount brought in DreamWorks to share the costs of a film said to be a shade under $100 million. Par brass had been uncomfortable with that number, and the film became mired in the kind of budget disputes that are becoming more common when making tentpole films laden with gross participants and special effects.

Budget issues prompted the exit of producer Scott Rudin, who put the project together at the studio in conjunction with Nickelodeon Films execs Albie Hecht and Julia Pistor. DreamWorks’ Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald will produce with Hecht and Pistor. DreamWorks is expected to take the creative lead on the project.

Silberling is a logical choice to helm the project. Though he most recently directed “Moonlight Mile” and “City of Angels,” Silberling directed the f/x-heavy “Casper,” selected for that task by Steven Spielberg. The Endeavor-repped Silberling was also the runner-up in the bake-off to helm “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

While the particulars on the film are still being pulled together, “Snicket” is expected to begin shooting in Los Angeles in October for a Christmas 2004 release. Paramount will release the film domestically, and DreamWorks has overseas territories.

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