EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has optioned screen rights to The Rosie Project, the global breakout novel by Australian writer Graeme Simsion. The film will be produced by Sony-based Matt Tolmach and Michael Costigan, both of whom were longtime colleagues as Sony execs and get to work together again for the first time as producers. The deal was closed by Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad and production president Hannah Minghella. The author will write the script. Simon & Schuster will publish in the U.S. in October.

The Rosie Project centers on Don Tillman, a professor of genetics who may suffer from Aspergers and has never been on a second date until he embarks upon The Wife Project, designing a questionnaire to help him find the perfect partner: a punctual, non-drinking, non-smoking female who will fit in with his regimented lifestyle. When the unorthodox and free-spirited Rosie appears on the scene, it is clear that she fits none of his selection criteria, but she still may just be the perfect match to help turn his life around.

“We love this story,” Minghella said. “Not only does it have tremendous commercial appeal, but a wonderfully interesting, groundbreaking lead character. There’s already been an incredible response to this novel in Australia and the UK and we think it will strike a similar chord in the States.”

Simsion was formerly an IT consultant, who, in his early 50s, decided to learn how to be a screenwriter, then a novelist, and discovered publishers all over the world clamored to buy rights to his book after the publishing rights were secured by the text publishing company.

The Rosie Project has become a breakout hit everywhere the novel has so far been published. Rich Green at Resolution represented the author/screenwriter and Sam Dickerman will oversee it with Minghella.