‘Bones’ up for bidding

Jackson searches for studio deal

Peter Jackson always said his next film would be the bigscreen adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel “The Lovely Bones” instead of another big-budget project.

Making good on that promise, the New Zealand filmmaker’s spec script for “Bones,” which he co-wrote with partners Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh and plans to direct, began making the rounds Monday, with Jackson looking for a studio partner.

Jackson is something of an anomaly among big-budget helmers in that he’s without a studio deal. That’s given him the freedom to develop the script for “Bones” at his own pace.

The only major studio omitted from Monday’s action was New Line. That’s no surprise, given the ongoing legal dispute between the studio and Jackson’s Wingnut Films over royalties on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. As a result of that feud, Jackson balked at directing “The Hobbit” for the studio.

New Line co-topper Bob Shaye has declared that he’ll never let Jackson helm “Hobbit” during his watch, much to the consternation of Harry Sloan and MGM, which shares rights to the pic with New Line and wants to proceed with the project.

As of early Monday evening, the bidding for “Bones” had not yet begun in earnest. In addition to the majors, the project was sent to smaller companies, including United Artists.

Jackson scooped up the film rights to “Bones” from FilmFour in 2004. (FilmFour is still a partner on the project.) Since then, the filmmaker has insisted that “Bones” would be his next directing project after “King Kong.”

Before Jackson became involved, DreamWorks was in talks to board the project.

Sebold’s tome tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who is raped and killed. Her spirit, however, keeps watch over her family and her killer.

Boyens and Walsh were Jackson’s writing partners on “LOTR” and “Kong.”

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