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‘Cholera’ has New Line look

Marquez had shunned 50 film offers over the years

New Line has acquired the screen rights to the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel “Love in the Time of Cholera,” and set Oscar-winning “The Pianist” scribe Ron Harwood to adapt it.

The studio bought the rights from producer Scott Steindorff, who earlier this year paid Marquez $1 million against $3 million. Before that, the author had refused to sell film rights since the book became a publishing sensation in 1985.

Steindorff will produce through his Stone Village banner, and New Line exec VP Mark Ordesky will oversee the project. Studio has agreed to move aggressively toward production and Steindorff, who hired Harwood, has mutual approval over creative decisions.

By the time a start date is set, the studio will have assumed Steindorff’s $3 million commitment to the author, and the producer will be paid a fee. Stone Village’s Scott LaStaiti and Brantley Dunaway are co-producing.

The Nobel Prize-winning author shunned what Steindorff estimated to be 50 film offers over the years. But Steindorff, who just produced “Empire Falls” at HBO and has Tom Hanks and Lawrence Kasdan poised to do “The Risk Pool,” has struck gold buying books for movies. He said his love for “Cholera” made him determined to wear down the author’s resistance. It took two years of calling.

“The heart of the book is a character who pursues a woman for 50 years, so a two-year pursuit seemed reasonable,” Steindorff said.

Steindorff liked Harwood’s “Pianist” script and sparked to his adaptation of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” a Universal project with Johnny Depp and Julian Schnabel attached.

“Ron knows how to crack tough literary material, how to tonally and stylistically make this movie,” Steindorff said. “He was so dead-on that I literally stopped him partway through his pitch to tell him he had the job.”

Ordesky, who was brought the book by exec Swanna MacNair, said it fits into one of his primary goals for the studio: securing lit properties with global appeal.

“This is one of the world’s great romantic stories, one that has reached multiple generations around the world,” he said.

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