EXCLUSIVE: Fox 2000 will turn the Paulette Jiles novel News Of The World into a feature star vehicle for Tom Hanks. Lion scribe Luke Davies is adapting the book and Playtone’s Gary Goetzman and Hanks are producing with The Danish Girl‘s Gail Mutrux. The studio acquired the project in a bidding battle by Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler, who’ll oversee it with Nikki Ramey and Jiao Chen.

Luke Davies
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The novel is set in 1870, revolving around a road trip through the untamed West taken by unlikely traveling partners. On the one hand is Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Texan who travels from town to town to read the news to locals who would otherwise not know what is going on in the world. While Kidd is sparked up by spreading the word of the passage of the 15th Amendment that gave voting rights to all men, he agrees to escort a 10-year-old white girl to her aunt and uncle in San Antonio after she was rescued from the Kiowa Indian tribe that kidnapped her and killed her family four years earlier. His traveling partner is an ornery youngster who didn’t want to be rescued and brought to her relatives.

The two form a bond through their harrowing adventure that includes revelations for Kidd. While he’s educated and worldly, he can see when he passes through major cities that newspapers are becoming widely available, and realizes he will soon be a relic of another time. The novel was nominated for a National Book Award.

Davies most recently adapted the addiction tale Beautiful Boy from the books by David and Nic Sheff, with Felix van Groeningen directing for Amazon Studios. Hanks next stars with Meryl Streep in the untitled Steven Spielberg-directed drama for Amblin and Fox about the Washington Post‘s role in exposing The Pentagon Papers, and then he will star in Greyhound, the Aaron Schneider-directed WWII tale Hanks wrote. That film is financed by FilmNation with Sony Pictures acquiring for worldwide rights, with Goetzman producing.

Hanks is repped by CAA, Davies by UTA and manager Eva Lontscharitsch. Book deal was brokered by Lynne Pleshette Agency’s Michael Cendejas and lit agent Elizabeth Darhansoff.