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Northern Weitz
American Pie director to tackle Pullman

25 May 2004  |  Written by   

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One of the more literate children's series of our time, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy deals with questions of life, death, love, sacrifice and the existence of God. Who better to direct it, then, than a man still best known for orchestrating the violation of a baked fruit pastry?

Chris Weitz negotiating with studio New Line to direct Pullman's trilogy. Along with his brother Paul, Weitz directed American Pie before moving on to slightly more adult fare in the Nick Hornby adaptation About A Boy. He is perhaps not the most obvious choice – but then neither was obscure indie director Peter Jackson for another recent fantasy epic, and that turned out pretty well.

Chris is reportedly so keen to land this job that he wrote a long dissertation detailing how he would tackle the books, which range across several different realities and feature angels, ghosts, Furies, armoured polar bears, a daemon familiar for every character and the stuff the universe is made of. Weitz' treatment obviously impressed the studio executives as well as author Philip Pullman and screenwriter Tom Stoppard and he is now deep in negotiations for the job.

The first book, variously called Northern Lights on this side of the Atlantic and The Golden Compass on the other, has already been adapted for the screen by Stoppard. Like Harry Potter and the Philosopher's / Sorceror's Stone, those different titles may necessitate a transatlantic name change, although on this occasion it is the American title that is more in keeping with the rest of the series. It is unclear whether the studio will adapt the series into two or three films.

The third book, which chronicles characters crossing the underworld as well as an all-out assault on Heaven, is going to be difficult to adapt, which may tempt New Line to take the course they originally considered for The Lord of the Rings and condense all three books into two films. Watch this space for further updates.

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