PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE: In a whopping deal that was done in stealth mode, The Weinstein Company is nearing a $12 million deal for Lion, a Luke Davies-scripted adaptation of the Saroo Bierley book A Long Way Home. The film will be directed by Garth Davis, who helmed Top Of The Lake, and the deal is for world rights, I’ve heard. There have been almost no rumblings about the project at the fest, but the two studios who were battling ferociously for this were TWC and Fox Searchlight. No comment yet from the principals but I expect this one to be done before day’s end.
It’s easy to see why each party was eager. The project has undeniable sweep and Oscar potential. It is most easily compared to Slumdog Millionaire and Life Of Pi, and it reunites TWC with the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. The producers and attorney Craig Emanuel have been guiding this deal. It is a truly fascinating true story, spanning India and Australia. The protagonist is Saroo Brierly, who was separated from his family in India at age 5. The family lived in desperate poverty after the father deserted them, and Brierly and his older brother one day went to a railway station to scavenge for food and spare change. Saroo wound up separated from his brother, and having no idea where it was going, boarded a train that took him far from his home. Hopelessly lost, he wound up on the streets of Calcutta. After a harrowing survival ordeal, he eventually was rescued, and was adopted and grew up with an affluent family in Australia. He never forgot his origins, though. As an adult, he decided to reunite with his mother. Using scraps of memory and Google Maps, he was able to figure out where home was, and 26 years later was finally reunited with a birth mother who never stopped hoping. (more…)