Literature spurs crop of upcoming pix

A U.K. English prof recently scandalized his profession by reducing the plot of John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost” to a text message short enough to fit on the screen of a cell phone: “Devl kikd outa hevn coz jelus of jesus & strts war.”

Sound like the plot of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie?

Legendary Pictures, the private equity fund that’s co-financing “Superman Returns,” seems to agree. Last week, Legendary announced plans to give “Paradise Lost” the blockbuster treatment.

The poem will be brought to the screen by Scott Derickson, who adapted “Beware the Night” for Bruckheimer before hitting the big time with “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

“We are excited by the challenge of going back to the source material,” says Legendary production chief Josh Jashni. No word yet on whether the entire script will be in blank verse.

It might be Milton’s first Hollywood turn, but he’s in good company.

Robert Zemeckis is shooting a CGI version of “Beowulf” starring Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie. Dino De Laurentiis is prepping a version of Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron” that allegedly will feature Hayden Christensen in the buff.

Having exhausted the bestseller list in their search for the next great literary voice, New York film scouts seem to have discovered a wealth of source material on their book shelves at home, all of it conveniently free of copyright protection.

It’s called the Norton Anthology of English Literature.

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