DeVito to direct ‘Charlotte Doyle’

Freeman, Brosnan, Ronan to star in adaptation

Danny DeVito will direct “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle,” and has set Morgan Freeman, Pierce Brosnan and Saoirse Ronan to star.

DeVito wrote the script, an adaptation of the bestselling young adult novel written by Avi. The film is in pre-production, with shooting to begin in September.

Ronan will play the title character, a daring teen who makes a trans-Atlantic crossing from England to America in the 1830s and finds herself caught between a charismatic but ruthless captain and a mutinous crew. Brosnan will play the captain and Freeman plays the ship’s cook, who guides the young woman through the journey.

HandMade Films will finance production along with Gotham-based property and hotel group Plaza Productions Intl. HandMade Films Intl. will handle worldwide sales, and CAA is repping domestic distribution rights.

Pic will be produced by Michele Weisler, Lori McCreary, Beau St. Clair and Patrick Meehan. Thomas D. Adelman and Hawk Koch are exec producers.

Also producing are DeVito’s Jersey Films 2nd Avenue, Freeman and McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment and Irish DreamTime, the company run by Brosnan and St. Clair.

DeVito, who will not appear in the film, returns to young adult fare for the first time as director since “Matilda,” the 1996 adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel. He’s worked on the script for several years.

“Like ‘Matilda,’ this had topnotch moral lessons in terms of choices that a 13-year-old girl has to make,” DeVito said.

The films he’s directed have usually had a dark edge, but he’s mindful of his target audience.

“I want edge, in terms of keeping you on the edge of your PG seat,” he said. “You always want to push to the limit, but I want people to know I’ll take care of the audience like I would my own children.”

HandMade’s Meehan, who’s prepping “Eloise at the Plaza,” said that the four-year effort to make “Charlotte Doyle” has fueled passion among the participants.

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