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Elizabeth Banks, Margot Robbie’s ‘Paper Bag Princess’ Lands at Universal

Universal Pictures has optioned the rights “The Paper Bag Princess” and sees the bestselling children’s book as a possible directing vehicle for Elizabeth Banks, Variety has learned. Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), who is producing the project with Banks, may appear in the film. Katie Silberman (“Set It Up”) is attached to write the screenplay.

Bidding on the project was heated, with Warner Bros. also circling the film, according to sources. The book is written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko. It centers on a princess whose castle and the royal wardrobe it houses are destroyed by a dragon on the eve of her wedding. Her fiancee is also captured. Wearing nothing more than a paper bag, the princess gives chase. The book has a strong feminist strain, upending the old damsel in distress cliches. Since its publication in 1980, “The Paper Bag Princess” has been reprinted 90 times and sold more than 10 million copies.

It makes sense that Banks would opt for Universal. The studio is home to her Brownstone Productions and has backed the “Pitch Perfect” series, which the actress helped launch. Banks will produce the new film for Brownstone with Max Handelman. Other producers on the family-friendly picture include Robbie and Tom Ackerley, who will back the project through their label LuckyChap Entertainment. Bryan Unkeless from Clubhouse Pictures and Dan Krech are also listed as producers.

Brownstone is backing the third installment in the “Pitch Perfect” franchise, which hits theaters on Dec. 22. LuckyChap releases “I, Tonya,” starring Robbie, on Dec. 8. “The Paper Bag Princess” with its strong heroine also sounds like a match for Brownstone and Banks, both of whom are backing female driven films and shows, such as the upcoming “Charlie’s Angels” reboot with Kristen Stewart attached as one of the crime fighters.

Banks is represented by UTA, Untitled Entertainment, and Ziffren Brittenham LLP. Robbie and LuckyChap are represented by CAA, Management 360, and attorney Jeff Bernstein. Silberman is represented by CAA, MXN Entertainment, and Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light, LLP.

Universal Vice President of Production Sara Scott will oversee the project for the studio.

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