Sam Mendes shifts to comedy

Director to helm Eggers/Vida's 'Place'

Sam Mendes will next direct an untitled contemporary comedy for Focus Features in March.

The low-budget project, previously titled “This Must Be the Place,” is based on an original screenplay by husband-and-wife team Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, best known as novelists and magazine editors.

It follows a young couple’s journey around the U.S. as they search for somewhere to put down roots and raise the baby they are expecting. No casting has yet been confirmed.Pic is being produced by Ed Saxon and co-financed by Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf’s Big Beach (“Little Miss Sunshine”). Mendes will get a produing credit through his own Neal Street Prods. Focus will co-finance and distribute worldwide.

This movie will be the firt Mendes has made for a studio specialty division.

Mendes is finishing “Reolutionary Road” for DreamWorks, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Pic is due for release at the end of 2008.

Mendes originally intendd his next directing project to be his first British movie, an adaptation of George Eliot’s 19th century masterpiece “Middlemarch,” which Andrew Davies iswriting for Neal Street.

But after so much heavyduty drama, Mendes decided instead that it was time to flex his comedic muscles with “This Must Be the Place.”

Eggers wrote the novel ” Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and runs the publishing house McSweeney’s. Vida edits the magazine “The Believer” and has writtennovels including “Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name.”

“This Must Be the Place”will be their first produced screenplay, although Eggers is also collaborating with Spike Jonze on “Where the Wild Things Are” and is adapting his own reook “What Is the What.”

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