Inside Move: WB wooing Jeunet

'Amelie' helmer closes in on Japrisot adaptation

Hot French helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet is closing in on a bigscreen adapation of Sebastien Japrisot’s bestseller “A Very Long Engagement” as his next project.

The director, whose”Amelie” is up for five Oscars, has shown interest in doing an adaptation for some time — but kept everyone guessing over what he would tackle.

Prize-winning scribe Japrisot, a prolific Gallic novelist and screenwriter, says Warner Bros. will exercise its option on “Engagement” for Jeunet to helm.

In securing the rights to the book, WB is working to woo Jeunet from French rival UGC, which backed “Amelie” and had been hoping to produce his next project.

Although Japrisot has written dozens of screenplays, including adaptations of his own novels, he does not expect to be involved in writing the project.

“I like “Amelie” very much — like everyone,” Japrisot says. “I know Jeunet’s very enthusiastic about my book, and I’m sure he’ll do a great job. It’s nothing like ‘Amelie,’ though. It will be interesting to see how he handles it.”

A mystery set at the end of World War I, “Engagement” won France’s literary Prix Interallia in 1991 and became a bestseller both in France and abroad.

The novel focuses on heroine Mathilde Donnay’s relentless search for the truth about the disappearance of her fiance, believed to have been among five court-martialed French soldiers taken to their own front line and left for the Germans to shoot in 1917.

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