Kenneth Oppel novel ‘Half Brother’ optioned

Pic will focus on the bond between boy and chimp

Producers Christian Taylor (“Hick”) and Eva Orner (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) have optioned Kenneth Oppel’s young adult novel “Half Brother.”

Set in the 1970s, the coming-of-age story explores the bond between a teenage boy and a chimpanzee, as well as the ethical implications of animal research. Raised by the boy’s family as part of a study, the chimp quickly becomes a media sensation, but when the project loses its funding the teen must risk everything to save the animal.

Producers are in the process of finding a writer and distribution partner for the project, which is said to feature a magical quality reminiscent of “E.T.”

Scholastic/HarperCollins published “Half Brother.” named a 2011 Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Assn.

Summit Entertainment recently acquired rights to Oppel’s upcoming novel “This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein,” which Karen Rosenfelt (“Twilight”) is on board to produce.

Taylor is producing “Hick,” an indie pic that will star Chloe Moretz, Blake Lively and Eddie Redmayne.

Oppel’s publishing rep is Writer’s House, while Rosen Feig Golland and Lunn repped Taylor and Orner in the deal. Richard Shepherd represented film rights on the project.