Film adaptation based on best-selling novel

After kickstarting the worldwide hit franchise “The Chronicles of Narnia,” writer-director Andrew Adamson is returning to New Zealand with his independently produced and financed feature adaptation of Kiwi author Lloyd Jones’ novel “Mr. Pip,” with Hugh Laurie set to star.

Adamson, who’ll direct the project from a script he wrote, plans to start production on “Mr. Pip” next month in New Zealand and Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, where the story is set.

“Mr. Pip” centers on an eccentric schoolteacher, played by Laurie, who reads “Great Expectations” to his class. One pupil, 14-year-old Matilda, begins to imagine character Pip into real-life to help her endure the hardships of her own life.

“I read ‘Mr. Pip’ on a transAtlantic flight and, by the time of landing, knew I would make the film,” said Adamson, who first optioned rights to the novel a few years ago. “It’s a testament to Lloyd’s wonderful novel that it has captured the hearts of Hugh, Robin and Leslie and an incredible group of like-minded collaborators.”

Adamson will produce, along with Olympus Pictures’ Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech, both of whom are co-financing with Robin Scholes of Eyeworks New Zealand and Agio Capital.

James Dean of Agio Capital will exec produce, as well as Daniel Revers via Deer Path Productions and Julie Christie, Tim White and Tim Coddington.

Focus Features Intl. acquired foreign sales rights to the project and will begin shopping it to potential buyers in Cannes.

Deal was negotiated by UTA’s Rena Ronson and Urdang on behalf of Olympus Pictures. UTA is handling North American distribution rights.

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