Universal Taps Michael Gracey to Direct ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’

Joe Roth is producing the pic

Although all the focus has been on Universal’s adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it looks like another popular property is also about to gain momentum.

Universal has tapped Michael Gracey to helm their adaptation of the New York Times best-seller “Daughter of Smoke and Bone.”

Joe Roth and his Roth Films prexy Palek Patel will produce and exec produce. Laini Taylor, the book’s author, and Jane Putch, Taylor’s manager and producing partner, will also executive produce.

Stuart Beattie penned the script.

The story follows a young art student who embarks on an unusual family quest where she encounters ethereal spirits. The tome is part of trilogy with the final book, “Dreams of Gods and Monsters,” coming out spring 2014.

Vice president of production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Sara Scott are overseeing the project for Universal.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone” has 35 foreign language licenses and is sold throughout the British Commonwealth and in China. It is read in over 100 countries. The book has received honors including being named an Amazon.com Top Ten Books of 2011, Amazon’s #1 Teen Book of 2011, a Publishers Weekly Best Books 2011, a Huffington Post Top 10 YA Book of 2011, and a New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2011. The book was also Amazon U.K.’s #1 YA book 2012 and Winner of an Audie Award for Best Fantasy Audio book.

It was a highly sought-after property when it was put on the market last year and, with Roth and Beattie now attached, it’s clear Universal views this as a tentpole property with franchise potential. Universal had been meeting with directors for the past couple months, with Gracey and “Enders Game” helmer Gavin Hood making the final cut.

A former visual effects specialist, Gracey, who is repped by CAA, Partizan and attorney Bob Wallerstein, has been keeping busy. Focus recently came on to his Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” where Tom Hardy attached to star, and he is also attached to direct “The Greatest Showman on Earth.”

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