Columbus to produce with eye to direct sci-fi tale

Warner Bros. Pictures has purchased feature rights to Kevin Brockmeier’s story “The Brief History of the Dead,” which Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn will adapt.

Chris Columbus, who last directed “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” for Warners, is attached to produce with an eye to direct the pic.

“The Brief History of the Dead” ran in the Sept. 8 issue of the New Yorker. The short story is about a blind man who arrives in a new city, telling a story of having traveled across a desert after his death. The other city-dwellers have their own elaborate and remarkable tales of crossing into this strange world, from which inhabitants depart as mysteriously as they entered.

The studio plans to position the pic as a supernatural romance.

The story is also the first chapter of Brockmeier’s novel of the same name, which he is now writing. While the book does not have a publisher, his previous books “The Truth About Celia,” a novel, and the short story collection “Things That Fall From the Sky” were published by Random House imprint Pantheon.

Columbus and 1492 Pictures partners Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe will produce the pic. Warners senior VP Courtenay Valenti oversees development.

Auburn, who adapted his play “Proof” for Miramax, is also adapting the English-language remake of the Korean film “Il Mare” for Warners.

Columbus is repped by CAA. Brockmeier and Auburn, both natives of Little Rock, Ark., are repped by Writers and Artists Group Intl. Brockmeier is also repped by Dunow & Carlson Literary Agency.

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