Back in 2009, director Tom Hooper and writer Christopher Hampton began developing a new take on John Steinbeck’s novel East Of Eden, taking over from Ron Howard and Peter Attanasio, who had made their own stab in 2004. Neither of those versions made it further than film limbo, so now Universal has turned to The Hunger Games director Gary Ross, and Games franchise star Jennifer Lawrence.
The story follows two brothers who compete for the attention of their father in California around the time of World War I. If she does make a deal, Lawrence would play Cathy Ames, the boys’ estranged mother. Wait, what? Are the boys infants? Well, probably not: Steinbeck's original novel told Cathy's story in parallel to Adam, the boy's father, and then went on to look at her sons. While the previous film adaptation focused on the second generation, this looks set to take a more Cathy-focused approach.
Imagine producer Brian Grazer has locked down the rights to Steinbeck’s novel – famously filmed in 1955 by Elia Kazan with James Dean and Richard Davalos starring – and all involved are now figuring out how this is going to work. Ross may well get behind the keyboard to polish the script, or he may, given his busy schedule, work with another writer.
Talking of Lawrence’s busy schedule, she is, of course, set to start making The Hunger Games: Mockingjay shortly, with Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence returning for that. Suzanne Collins’ novel is split across two films scheduled for release in November next year and 2015.
That’s not the only project she has on hand. Hovering on Lawrence and Ross' To Do list is an adaptation of Hannah Kent’s novel Burial Rights, which would follow a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. As she tries to fight her case, she faces powerful forces looking to have her executed. That one is still floating around, looking for a studio deal. In other words, Lawrence and Ross look set to work together for some considerable time to come.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, meanwhile, will be out on November 21. You can read all about it in the new Empire, which hits shops today (for those in the UK, at least) and digitally on the iPad and Android.