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Universal, Verbinski plan to role-play

Steven Knight to base script on WSJ article

Universal and “Pirates of the Caribbean” helmer Gore Verbinski have acquired a 2007 Wall Street Journal article they will use as the basis for a film about the online fantasy role-playing world and its detrimental impact on the real lives of players.

Verbinski will develop the film as a directing vehicle; Steven Knight (“Eastern Promises”) will pen the script.

The article by Alexandra Alter focuses on a married man who spends as many as 20 hours a day on a computer, existing through an avatar who is a thriving, musclebound entrepreneur. In reality, he is a diabetic, chain-smoking 53-year-old.

Verbinski will produce with Alain Chabat, Stephanie Danan and Sarah Shepard of WAM Films. The project takes root at the studio through Verbinski’s U-based Blind Wink Prods. banner.

Verbinski made a first-look deal at U after signing on to direct a live-action adaptation of the vidgame “Bioshock.” Verbinski most recently set at Universal a remake of 2006 Korean thriller “The Host,” with Fredrik Bond set to direct and Mark Poirier to script.

Knight’s script credits include “Amazing Grace” and “Dirty Pretty Things.”