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Phillip Noyce in talks to direct ‘The Giver’

TWC, Walden setting up vehicle for Jeff Bridges

Hollywood has been trying to bring Lois Lowry’s celebrated 1993 children’s book “The Giver” to the bigscreen for the better part of two decades — now the movie is one step closer to fruition, as Phillip Noyce (“Salt”) is in early talks to direct for The Weinstein Co., Walden Media and star Jeff Bridges, who is producing with Nikki Silver.

TWC had no official comment. An individual close to the project told Variety that Aussie Noyce’s involvement “is very early, as there are a lot of moving parts to this.”

Unlike action-heavy YA properties “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter,” “The Giver” is a largely introspective fantasy tale set in a colorless dystopian society in which all memory of human history has been erased, emotion does not exist and citizens’ professions are chosen for them. When a 12-year-old boy is assigned to serve as the Receiver of Memories (i.e. the next Giver) he discovers that all is not as it seems.

Bridges has long been attached to play the title role, who is the most important person in the Community. He bought the rights to “The Giver” two decades ago, originally envisioning it as a vehicle for his father Lloyd. Thesp was introduced to the book, which has sold more than 10 million copies and won the 1994 Newbery Medal, by his daughter, who was reading it in high school.

Vadim Perelman (“House of Sand and Fog”) penned the most recent draft of the script and had been eyed to direct back in 2006 when Walden Media and Twentieth Century Fox were interested in greenlighting the project.

As recently as last month, Lowry expressed her doubts that “The Giver” would ever be made, having read four screenplays over the years. But with studios high on branded properties, the time may be right for “The Giver,” which also offers franchise potential. Lowry wrote two loosely-related companion novels, “Gathering Blue” and “Messenger,” while a fourth novel, “Son,” was released earlier this year and ties all three storylines together in an epic conclusion.

There is no start date for “The Giver,” though Noyce’s pending involvement indicates that the project is moving forward at TWC and Walden Media, the latter of which has experience spinning hits out of bestselling children’s books, having produced the “Chronicles of Narnia” series along with Disney.

Noyce, whose last film, “Salt,” grossed nearly $300 million worldwide, has yet to get a follow-up pic off the ground, though he has been developing several projects, including Relativity Media’s “Timeless,” Good Universe’s thriller “The Arrangement” and Ed Pressman’s remake of “Bloodsport.” Noyce also signed an exclusive pilot directing/first-look deal with Universal Television in July, having directed the “Brotherhood” pilot for Showtime back when NBC topper Bob Greenblatt was running the pay cabler.

Noyce is repped by UTA, Fineman Entertainment and Australia-based Cameron Creswell Agency.

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