LONDON — Columbia has optioned the movie rights to Brit writer Nick Hornby’s bestseller “How to Be Good,” for Laura Ziskin to produce.
Columbia paid mid-six figures for the option. Ultimate purchase price if the movie is made reportedly exceeds the $3 million Hornby was paid for the film rights to his previous novel, “About a Boy.”
“How to Be Good,” published in 2002, is a complex moral comedy about a couple on the brink of divorce. The wife is a well-meaning doctor whose sense of superiority to her angry, cynical husband is undermined when she has an affair, and he suddenly decides to become “good” in the fashion of the Gospels.
When that turns out to mean redistributing the family’s possessions to the needy and inviting poor people to live in their house, she discovers that she misses the man he used to be.
Leslie Morgan, senior VP of production for Laura Ziskin Prods., will shepherd the development, together with Columbia exec VP of production Amy Baer and co-prexy of production Matt Tolmach.
His bestselling “High Fidelity” was successfully relocated to Chicago for the eponymous Stephen Frears pic starring John Cusack; “About a Boy,” starring Hugh Grant and directed by the Weitz brothers, kept its original English setting.
Hornby’s autobio “Fever Pitch” was also turned into a low-budget Brit pic, and an American remake is in the works at Fox.
Hornby is working on a new novel and is carving out a career as a screenwriter. His original script “Fast Forward,” co-written by Emma Thompson, is in development at Working Title, which co-produced “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy.”