Weinsteins Resurrect The Alchemist

With Laurence Fishburne to star/direct

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho's best-selling novel about a shepherd boy following his treasure-hunting dreams and meeting the mysterious titular figure, has had several thwarted attempts at transferring to the big screen. But the Weinstein Company came to its rescue in Cannes this morning, with Harvey Weinstein announcing that he will produce the adaptation, which will be co-produced and directed by and star Laurence Fishburne. An "Academy Award-winning screenwriter" is in negotiations to write the script.

Fishburne has been attached to the film since 2003, when the project was stationed at Warner Bros. But with numerous screenplay troubles – Weinstein claims to have read and "hated" all those that have been produced so far – the film never get off the ground and Coelho even tried to buy the rights back from the studio. This film will mark Fishburne's second outing as director, following 2000's little seen Once In The Life.

With a fairly modest budget of $60 million The Alchemist could prove to be a big hitter for The Weinstein Co, which has struggled for hits, critically and commercially, since the brothers left Miramax to form the company. The book has sold in excess of 65 million copies around the world.