Studio picks up 'Lovely Bones'

Peter Jackson will make his next movie at DreamWorks.

Committing at least $65 million, DreamWorks, in association with Film 4, has won the bidding for Jackson’s bigscreen adaptation of Alice Sebold’s bestselling 2002 tome “The Lovely Bones.”

Announcement came early Friday evening, capping a weeklong auction that had three other majors — Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal and Sony — vying for Jackson’s project as well.

DreamWorks was a natural fit — DreamWorks fought hard for the film rights to Sebold’s book for several years ago before the rights went to Jackson. Also, Steven Spielberg has long wanted to work with Jackson.

And Jackson made his last movie, “King Kong,” with DreamWorks CEO-co-chair Stacey Snider when Snider was still running Universal.

Jackson is set to begin lensing in October in Pennsylvania and New Zealand from a script he co-wrote with “Lord of the Rings” collaborators Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. Paramount, which owns DreamWorks, will distribute “Bones” worldwide, with Jackson promising to deliver the film by the fourth quarter of 2008. Film 4 held back distribution rights for the U.K., where Par will distribute for it.

Producers are Jackson, Walsh, Carolynne Cunningham and Aimee Peyronnet. Ken Kamins of Key Creatives, Film 4’s Tessa Ross and Jim Wilson will exec produce.

Project is a departure from the string of f/x-driven tentpoles — the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and “King Kong” — that have made Jackson one of the industry’s most powerful filmmakers.

“Bones,” with its heart-wrenching storyline, is closer in tone to Jackson’s 1994 pic “Heavenly Creatures.” Sebold’s book tells the story of a 14-year-old who has been raped and killed and now watches over her family and killer.

“When you read an emotionally magical story that cries out to be turned into a major motion picture, you hope its winding path can find its way to the door of your own company,” DreamWorks’ Steven Spielberg said.

And Jackson made his last movie, “King Kong,” with DreamWorks CEO/co-chair Stacey Snider when the latter was still running Universal.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more