×

Universal Developing World War II Disaster Drama ‘Salt to the Sea’

Universal Pictures is developing a movie based on Ruta Sepetys’ historical novel “Salt to the Sea,” and set up the project with “Transformers” producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

The studio won the rights in an auction. Sepetys is repped by UTA, Steven Malk at Writers House, and attorney Judith Karfiol.

“Salt to the Sea,” a New York Times bestseller published last year by Philomel/Penguin Young Readers Group, centers on four individuals — a Lithuanian nurse, a Prussian apprentice, a 15-year-old Polish girl, and an eager German who adheres to Adolf Hitler’s propaganda — who perished on the MV Wilhelm Gustloff. The German military transport ship was sunk in January, 1945, by a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea while the ship was  evacuating German civilians, Nazi officials, and military personnel from Gdynia.

By one estimate, 9,400 people died, making it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history — more than six times the number who died when the Titanic sunk in 1912.

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber will adapt the screenplay. Their credits include “(500) Days of Summer,” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” and the upcoming “Our Souls At Night,” with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda starring, and “The Disaster Artist,” starring James Franco and Dave Franco.

Di Bonaventura’s credits include the “G.I. Joe” and “Red” franchises, along with “Deepwater Horizon,” “Granite Mountain,” and “Meg.” Universal’s Kristin Lowe will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. Alexandra Loewy will oversee for Di Bonaventura Pictures.

Neustadter and Weber are represented by CAA, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and Sean A. Marks. Di Bonaventura is represented by CAA and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman LLP. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

More Film

  • Dunkirk

    Harry Styles Is the Perfect Prince Eric; Why He'd Rock 'Little Mermaid' Role

    Could Harry Styles be the perfect Prince Eric? One day after the announcement that the One Direction star is “in early negotiations to play the iconic ‘Little Mermaid’ role,” the internet exploded with speculation as to how he would portray the object of Ariel’s affections. “I can see lots of reasons why Harry is perfect,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    Film News Roundup: PETA Sponsors Rescued Lion in Jon Favreau's Name

    In today’s film news roundup, PETA honors Jon Favreau for “The Lion King,” “Tigers Are Not Afraid” gets a theatrical release, a Kirk Franklin biopic is in development and “The Sixth Sense” gets an anniversary showing in Philadelphia. HONOR The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sponsoring a rescued lion to honor director [...]

  • Tokyo Director-in-Focus-at-Japan-Now

    Nobuhiko Obayashi set as Japanese Director in Focus at Tokyo Film Festival

    Indie director, Nobuhiko Obayashi will be feted as the director in focus at the Japan Now section of this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The festival will give a world premiere to his “Labyrinth of Cinema.” Supporting his art by shooting commercials, Obayashi is an indie whose dreamy works have influenced numerous other directors in [...]

  • Jimmi Simpson Joins Russell Crowe Movie

    Jimmi Simpson Joins Russell Crowe Thriller 'Unhinged' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jimmi Simpson will play a key role in “Unhinged,” Variety has learned. He joins an impressive cast that includes Oscar-winner Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius. Solstice Studios is producing the psychological thriller, which is currently filming in New Orleans. “Unhinged” centers on a woman named Rachel (Pistorius), who leans on her horn at the wrong [...]

  • David Crosby

    David Crosby Says New Documentary 'Remember My Name' Is Like 'Being Naked in Public’

    “It’s not easy. It’s hard being naked in public,” David Crosby, the legendary troubadour of classic rock, reflected at Tuesday night’s New York City premiere of “David Crosby: Remember My Name.” “I don’t know what to do here. There’s no guitars, no drums,” he laughed. Directed by newcomer A.J. Eaton and produced by the legendary [...]

  • Javier Bardem Dune

    Javier Bardem in Talks to Play King Triton in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Javier Bardem is in talks to play King Triton in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. Harry Styles is also in early talks to play Prince Eric. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • UglyDolls

    STX Tries to Put Flops Behind It as It Searches for Star Executive, Fresh Capital

    After a series of film flops and an aborted initial public offering, STX Entertainment is battling mounting skepticism that it can survive in an increasingly unforgiving movie business. As it hustles to find $500 million in fresh capital, the company, which operates in the red according to financial disclosures, is simultaneously hoping to attract a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content