Director may take on 'Hugo'

The heat generated by “The Departed” has put Martin Scorsese in high demand.

Warner Bros. and Graham King’s Initial Entertainment Group — which produced “The Departed” for Warners — have acquired screen rights to bestselling Brian Selznick children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” as a potential directing vehicle for Scorsese.

Pic reteams the creatives behind 2004’s “The Aviator”: screenwriter John Logan, Scorsese and producer King. Logan will immediately begin penning the script.

Published last month by Scholastic, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” concerns a 12-year-old orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station in 1930 and a mystery involving the boy, his late father and a robot. Scorsese recently inked a lucrative first-look deal with Paramount. Under the terms of the pact, Par has the right to own half of any project Scorsese directs or produces elsewhere.

This does not include pre-existing projects set up at another studio. This likely includes “Hugo Cabret,” even while the project is only now being announced.

“Hugo Cabret” joins several projects on Scorsese’s to-do list.

While the director hasn’t declared his next film, helming projects on his front burner include “Silence,” the Initial-produced WB adaptation of the Shusaku Endo novel about two 17th century Jesuit priests who witness the hardships of spreading Christianity in Japan. (Project predates the first-look deal with Par.)

A sequel to “The Departed” is being mulled based on an idea by scripter William Monahan. Both Scorsese and King head into the weekend in contention for Oscars for “Departed.”

At Paramount, Scorsese is developing with an eye to direct the bigscreen adaptation of Eric Jager’s historical tome “Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal and Trial by Combat in Medieval France.” Kevin Misher’s Par-based Misher Films is producing.

Logan most recently scripted “Sweeney Todd,” the DreamWorks/Warner Bros. feature version of the Stephen Sondheim musical, with Tim Burton directing Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Separately at Warner, King is partnered with Depp on “Shantaram”for director Mira Nair. Initial and Depp’s Infinitum Nihil are also developing a drama that will focus on Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-KGB spy who was fatally poisoned.

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