The grand experiment between Focus Features and Random House to co-finance films from the publisher’s books continues to put some interesting projects in development. The latest: Brad Pitt and Darren Aronofsky have attached themselves to produce The Tiger, a drama based on the upcoming book by John Vaillant that will be adapted by Babel scribe Guillermo Arriaga. Pitt produces with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B and Aronofsky will produce with Protozoa cohorts Mark Heyman and Ari Handel. The book, to be published Aug. 24 by RH imprint Knopf, is a fact-based story that takes place on the Siberian plain, where humans encroach on a tiger’s habitat with tragic results.
Given the dwindling margins of the publishing business, a venture like Random House Films has drawn scrutiny. It was back in 2005 that Random House and Focus Features announced they were joining forces in a new production entity and sharing financial, creative and production responsibilities for adapting books to film and turning film material into books. The one film that got made — Reservation Road — wasn’t a hit. But the imprint’s top editor Peter Gethers has several new chances to turn that around, with projects that have drawn strong creative elements.
Gethers and Focus CEO James Schamus most recently made a deal to make the Arthur Phillips novel The Song Is You into a musical with the Dreamgirls team of Bill Condon and Larry Mark. They have Stephen Frears attached to direct Lay The Favorite, a movie based on Beth Raymer’s memoir that was published by Spiegel & Grau. The comedy has a D.V. DeVincentis script, and young actresses in town are vying to play the lead.
Focus and Random House Films are also developing The Husband, an adaptation of the 2006 Bantam-published Dean Koontz thriller novel that has Ole Bornedal directing a script he wrote with Glenn Gers.