Cruise may enter ‘Void’

Castle, C/W developing pic as vehicle for thesp

Castle Rock will adapt Joe Simpson’s man-against-the-elements novel “Touching the Void” as a starring vehicle for Tom Cruise, Castle Rock Pictures prexy Martin Shafer and prexy of production Liz Glotzer announced Monday.

Castle Rock has pacted with Cruise and Paula Wagner’s C/W Prods., Sally Field’s Fogwood Films and producer Alan Greisman to make the pic.

The four partners have hired Gavin Scott, co-scribe of DreamWorks’ forthcoming “Small Soldiers,” to pen the screenplay.

“Void” is the true story of Simpson and his partner Simon Yates’ survival of a grueling mountaineering ordeal in the Peruvian Andes. The pair had reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak when Simpson suddenly plunged off a ledge.

Yates attempted to save him by lowering a rope, but ultimately was forced to cut it in order to preserve his own life. He returned to base camp certain that Simpson was dead.

Miraculously, despite a broken leg and severe frostbite, Simpson managed to hobble back to the camp, reaching it mere hours before Yates had planned to leave.

According to Shafer, C/W, Fogwood and Greisman teamed up on the project and then brought it to Castle Rock, who suggested signing Scott. Castle Rock knew the scribe’s work from a previous script he had written for them, an unmade actioner entitled “Brooke.”

C/W tends to favor endurance-themed material as evidenced by its forthcoming sports drama about the long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine, “Without Limits.” Pic, which is directed by Robert Towne, will be released by Warner Bros. in September.

Shafer said that once the script was written, Cruise would read it and decide whether he wanted to star or not. “Obviously, we’re writing it for him,” he said. There is no director attached.

The budget of the pic will be “substantial,” Shafer said. It will be jointly financed and distributed by Warner and Polygram Filmed Entertainment, under Castle Rock’s existing deal with the two companies.

Scott, whose other screenwriting credit is the Working Title pic “The Borrowers,” is a former BBC journalist. He is repped by Original Artists’ Matt Leipzig and Jordan Bayer.

C/W, which is based at Paramount, has produced just one movie there to date, the box office smash “Mission: Impossible,” although a sequel is in development.

Fogwood’s credits include the Tom Hanks-starrer “Punchline,” and Greisman’s “Fletch” and “Soapdish.”