Film News

Spielberg eyes helm of DreamWorks' "Chocky"

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - DreamWorks has acquired the dramatic rights to the science fiction novel “Chocky” from Pollinger Ltd., the U.K. agency that handles the literary estate of the late author John Wyndham.

Steven Spielberg watches the Los Angeles Lakers play the Boston Celtics during Game 3 of the NBA Finals basketball championship in Los Angeles, June 10, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Steven Spielberg is said to be keen to make the adaptation his next directing project.

“Chocky” is a 1968 novel by British science fiction writer Wyndham (officially John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris), who wrote the well-known “The Day of the Triffids.”

The story centers on a boy who has a mysterious imaginary friend with whom he frequently argues. As the boy’s father gets increasingly suspicious, it becomes clear that an alien entity has taken up residence in the boy’s consciousness.

Spielberg’s proclivity for exploring the darker aspects of childhood would make him a natural fit for the material, but given his recent exit from Paramount, the question remains whether Par or the new independent DreamWorks would product the film.

For months, speculation has been rampant about what some call a potential “bloodbath” over DreamWorks-developed projects under the just-ended Paramount deal, and which ones Spielberg would attempt to take with him.

Paramount executives say that the Melrose studio owns all DreamWorks-developed properties outright. Unless Spielberg and departing DW chief Stacey Snider purchase one or more of the projects, they’re all staying put at Paramount.

DW is believed to be within two weeks of a deal with a studio -- probably Universal -- to distribute its future films.

Should the famed director decide to bargain with Paramount, at least a handful of DreamWorks projects would seem ones that Spielberg and Snider might wish to take with them. In addition to “Chocky,” those include “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which Spielberg was once planning to direct; an Abraham Lincoln/Civil War epic scripted by Tony Kushner; “Cowboys and Aliens,” a comic-book adaptation that will star Robert Downey Jr.; and “The 39 Clues,” a series of books that Spielberg has shown an interest in directing.

Although the first film in a “Tintin” trilogy has lately been a priority for the director, that project hit a snag when Paramount’s potential financial partner, Universal, turned down a chance to put up half of the $130 million price tag.

Paramount has offered to foot the full bill, but that would be in exchange for certain undisclosed financial caveats that may be enough of a hitch to push Spielberg to another project. “Tintin” is a motion-capture animation project, and “Chocky” would be live action, so Spielberg might try to do them simultaneously.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter