EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures beat out other bidders to land the Ruta Sepetys book Salt to the Sea, with scribe team Scott Neustadter & Michael Weber writing and Lorenzo di Bonaventura attached to produce. The author is a bestselling writer of historical fiction and here tells the survival struggle by three refugees from East Prussia at the end of WWII. They believe their way to safety is on the ship the Wilhelm Gustloff. Just when freedom seemed in their grasp, tragedy struck: the sinking of that ship was the largest maritime disaster in history. The author’s meld of history and fiction includes past bestsellers Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy.  Shades of Gray was published in 53 countries and 37 languages and the movie adaptation, Ashes in the Snow, is directed by Marius Markevicius and stars Bel Powley. The scribes are best known for (500) Days of Summer and The Fault in Our Stars, and the upcoming films Beauty Inside, Our Souls At Night, with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda starring, and The Masterpiece, which stars James Franco and Dave Franco.

Universal’s Senior Vice President of Production Kristin Lowe will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. Alexandra Loewy will oversee for Di Bonaventura Pictures. Neustadter and Weber are represented by CAA, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and Sean A. Marks. Sepetys is represented by UTA on behalf of Writers House and attorney Judith Karfiol.