Touchstone to release film in the fall

Spike Lee will co-write and direct “Time Traveler,” a feature adaptation of a memoir by Ronald Mallett, one of the nation’s first African-Americans to earn a Ph.D in theoretical physics.

Lee acquired “Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality” with his own money and has set up the project through his Forty Acres & A Mule Filmworks banner.

Mallett, who wrote the book with Bruce Henderson, recounts his rise from poverty to a distinguished academic and scientific career, and it lays out the technical specs for what Mallett envisions as a workable time machine. Developing a time machine became an obsession for Mallett from the age of 10 after his father’s death. His goal was to travel back in time to save his father.

Lee called “Time Traveler” a “fantastic story on many levels (and) also a father and son saga of loss and love.”

The filmmaker has been intrigued by the subject and flirted with the Fox drama “Selling Time,” about a man who sells a part of his life expectancy for the chance to go back and relive the worst day of his life. Lee is no longer involved in that project.

The helmer recently completed “Miracle at St. Anna,” based on a novel about members of the U.S. Army’s 92nd Division of all-black buffalo soldiers who become trapped in Italy during WWII. The pic will be released by Touchstone Pictures in the fall.

UTA and Paul Bresnick Literary Agency brokered the book deal.

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