Film News

"Paradise Lost" movies face off in Hollywood

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It’s time to brush up on your John Milton because the 17th century English poet’s “Paradise Lost” is suddenly on Hollywood’s radar.

An indie version of “Paradise” that has been gestating for nearly four decades could finally enter production as early as the summer. If so, it could find itself going up against a big-budget version set up at Warner Bros.

Veteran producer Martin Poll began pitching a film version of Milton’s epic poem in the late ‘60s.

Although he couldn’t interest a studio at the time to make a movie about Satan’s fall from grace, his temptation of Adam and Eve and the first couple’s subsequent banishment from the Garden of Eden, Poll began working with British author and screenwriter John Collier, who wrote a screenplay, which was published in book form in 1973. Collier died in 1980, but Poll said he has renewed his option over the years.

In the past year, the project has taken on new life. Philadelphia-based STV Networks -- a digital distribution company specializing in Bollywood fare headed by Sridhar Sreekakula, who is seeking to get into theatrical distribution -- has come aboard as a co-financier, agreeing to put up half of the film’s projected $30 million-$35 million budget.

Poll initially brought the script to Arthur Penn, who worked on its development but decided against directing, so the project is out to filmmakers.

Two unknown young actors, David Dunham and Patricia Li Bryan, are on tap to play Adam and Eve as part of a multiethnic cast. The producers hope to land a star to play Satan.

Although “Paradise” is in the public domain, the producers said they’ve registered the title with a registry overseen by the Motion Picture Assn. of America to stake out their turf.

They still could find themselves in a battle, though, with Legendary’s more ambitious-sounding “Paradise.” Scott Derrickson is attached to direct that project for release by Warner Bros. The project is being developed in part by Legendary Pictures, the backer of the “Batman” movies.