Filmmaker signs on to direct New Line drama

Nick Cassavetes has signed on to helm the conservation-themed drama “Peaceable Kingdom” for New Line.

Story is based on the true life and work of Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the leading animal conservationist in Kenya, who has devoted her life to preventing elephant extinction by endeavoring to save baby elephants left orphaned by war, poaching and culling. Jeff Stockwell (“Bridge to Terabithia”) penned the screenplay.

Cathy Schulman and Peter Guber are producing through their Mandalay Pictures banner.

Schulman says she became passionate about the project after watching a “60 Minutes” profile on Sheldrick. Shortly after, she and Guber flew to Africa to meet with the conservationist and began working on what she hopes will be a four-quadrant family film.

“I’m crazy passionate about this one,” Schulman said. “This film is all about the cycle of life and rebuilding families, both animal and human. It’s also about the intertwining of people and animals.”

New Line is eyeing an early fall start date in Kenya.

Cassavetes’ producing partner Chuck Pacheco will serve in some producing capacity.

Cassavetes, whose credits include the crime drama “Alpha Dog,” most recently helmed the Cameron Diaz starrer “My Sister’s Keeper” for New Line.

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