Investor groups licenses rights to Gibran's 1923 book

Kahlil Gibran’s iconic tome “The Prophet” is coming to the big screen.

Feature film rights to Gibran’s 1923 book, consisting of 26 poetic essays, have been licensed for the first time to an investor group led by Steve Hanson of digital agency Hanson Inc., with the aim of developing an omnibus-style 3D-animated film.

Clark Peterson (“Monster”) and Ron Senkowski will produce the film with segments in differing styles created by international teams of animators and animation studios. Hanson and William Nix will exec produce.

Peterson, who worked as a Disney exec on animated films before turning to producing, told Daily Variety the producing team is seeking a director and hoping to start production by late summer and complete the film by the end of 2011. Since the segments will be animated by different outfits, the time needed to finish should be far shorter than a conventional animated feature.

“The Prophet” — a series of sermons by a fictional wise man who’s about to embark on a journey home — is in its 163rd printing in the United States (still under Random House’s Knopf imprint) and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Gibran is thought to be the world’s third best-selling poet, after William Shakespeare and Lao-tzu; the chapters “On Love,” “On Children” and “On Marriage” are among the best known.

“The book is about life, peace, and human rights, all framed in a simple story that transcends cultures and borders,” Peterson said. “By embracing an international approach to the film, we’re making a film with universal appeal.”

Hanson and Nix began working on the project two years ago. Upon Gibran’s death in 1931, rights to his works were bequeathed to his hometown of Bsharri, Lebanon, where the Gibran National Committee was then formed to administer the rights. The committee has overseen the exhibition of his paintings, sketches and other artifacts and also functions as a charitable organization.

The recently signed deal also grants the producers access to the written works of Gibran as well as other artistic rights including his artwork. Publishing rights remain with Random House.

Peterson’s also a producer on the feature adaptation of James Ellroy’s crime drama “White Jazz.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more