‘Road’ to bigscreen

Wechsler nabs rights to McCarthy book

Using independent financing, producer Nick Wechsler has acquired film rights to Cormac McCarthy’s new novel, “The Road.”

Australian director John Hillcoat (“The Proposition”) will develop the book to direct, and Wechsler will produce with Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz.

The latter, co-founders of the PR agency Schwartz Communications, financed the book buy through their fledgling Chockstone Pictures banner.

After building their independent PR firm focusing on the high-tech and health care industries, the duo is seeding several movie projects that include Terrence Malick’s next film as well as “Eager to Die,” a political thriller set in the world of climbing that they will produce with Barbara DeFina, with playwright Israel Horovitz penning the script.

McCarthy’s fiction has been catnip to filmmakers. His National Book Award winning “All the Pretty Horses” was turned into a 2002 film, and Joel and Ethan Coen just wrapped “No Country for Old Men” with Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin starring. “Blood Meridien” also is in development.

“The Road” is much different from those Westerns. Set after a nuclear explosion, the book is the post-apocalyptic nightmarish road trip of a man who tries to transport his son to safety while fending off starving stragglers and marauding packs of cannibals.

Wechsler, who’ll set a writer shortly, had just watched Guy Pearce starrer “The Proposition” when he read the book, and he sought out the director.

“There was something beautiful in the way John captured the stark primitive humanity of the West in that movie,” Wechsler said.

Despite McCarthy’s literary pedigree, the dark subject matter and cannibalism made some studios shy when the book hit the marketplace. His reps favored the idea of setting the title with Wechsler and building a creative package with outside coin.

“We’ll develop this independently, and probably finance it in large part through independent sources,” Wechsler said. “I’ve done quite a few movies lately this way, and it gives you creative freedom and a more promising upside, especially on the DVD front.”

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