Jonze helms bigscreen version of classic kid book

Warner Bros. has acquired “Where the Wild Things Are” out of turnaround from Universal.

Adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic kid’s book, which Spike Jonze will helm from a script he and novelist Dave Eggers penned, is expected to get under way late in the year.

Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are producing, along with Sendak and John Carls.

Figuring out a way to turn the 338-word “Wild Things” story into a movie has been a long process, with multiple helmers and writers weighing in. Details of the Jonze-Eggers version have been closely held, but pic will be a live-action feature that will likely require a sizable CGI budget.

Universal and Sendak did not see eye-to-eye on the concept, but the current vision of the pic has the strong support of Sendak, who told the New York Times in October, “I am in love with it. If Spike and Dave do not do this movie now, I would just as soon not see any version of it ever get made.”

Rather than put a kibosh on the pic, U decided to let the producers shop it to other studios. Warners is prepping the pic as a tentpole. Legendary Pictures, which has co-financed last summer’s “Batman Begins” and the upcoming “Superman Returns,” will likely come aboard as a co-financer.

Warners exec Lynn Harris is shepherding for the studio. Playtone is also producing CGI toon “The Ant Bully” for Warners, skedded for release Aug. 4.

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