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Lionsgate lining up John August to adapt ‘Wonder’

Mandeville Films shepherding R.J. Palacio's bestseller to bigscreen

Lionsgate is in final negotiations to acquire R.J. Palacio’s bestselling debut novel “Wonder” and has entered talks with “Frankenweenie” scribe John August to adapt the pre-teen tale, which David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman are producing for Mandeville Films.

Lionsgate had no comment, as the studio has yet to close a deal for the book rights, as well as August.

“Wonder” follows a 10-year-old boy named Auggie whose facial deformity prevented him from attending a mainstream school. Starting fifth grade at a new school, he struggles to convince his new classmates that, despite appearances, he’s just like them. Story explores the theme of bullying and is told from multiple points of view.

In addition to selling more than 215,000 copies worldwide between print and ebooks, “Wonder” has spent 32 weeks on the New York Times’ bestseller list since its publication in February. It has been long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and the UKLA Book Award, two of the most prestigious and well-known children’s book awards in the U.K.

Lionsgate has been been hiring top-shelf screenwriters to tackle young-adult stories, tapping Oscar winner Charlie Kaufman to adapt Patrick Ness’ dystopian sci-fi tale “Chaos Walking” and Emmy winner Danny Strong to pen the last two “Hunger Games” pics based on Suzanne Collins’ “Mockingjay.”

In addition to developing “Swiss Family Robinson” and “Jungle Cruise” for Disney, where it has a first-look deal, Mandeville’s upcoming releases include Summit’s zombie romancer “Warm Bodies” and Relativity Media’s comedy “21 and Over.”

August wrote both “Charlie’s Angels” movies before joining forces with Tim Burton and writing “Big Fish,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Corpse Bride” and “Frankenweenie” for the director, in addition to helping shape the story of “Dark Shadows.” He recently adapted the Monsterpocalypse strategy game for a DreamWorks film and Garth Ennis’ comicbook “Preacher” for Sony.

August is repped by UTA.

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