US screenwriter hired by Lionsgate to work on first book in the Patrick Ness trilogy tipped as the next Hunger Games
Charlie Kaufman may not be the obvious choice to adapt a young adult trilogy being tipped as the basis for the next Hunger Games, but he is certainly a startling one.
The maverick screenwriter and director, whose previous work includes transforming the non-fiction book The Orchid Thief into the mind-bending, Oscar-nominated Adaptation, has been hired by a Hollywood studio to take on the first book in Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy.
Lionsgate, which owns rights to both the Twilight and Hunger Games series, is eyeing Ness's dystopian science-fiction triptych as its next blockbuster franchise.
Kaufman will adapt The Knife of Never Letting Go, in which a group of Christian settlers colonise a far-off planet after the human homeworld becomes virtually uninhabitable.
A previously unknown phenomenon, the Noise, strikes the fledgling community, resulting in all thought becoming audible.
A corrupt autocrat seizes control in the ensuing chaos and a young man, Todd Hewitt, finds himself travelling half way round the world to warn a newly-arrived group of settlers of the dangers awaiting them.
We should also mention that, at the beginning of the first book, it is widely believed all human females have died out on the planet.
The project marks a departure for Kaufman, who has previously focused mostly on offbeat indie material, often working with the director Spike Jonze and latterly taking the director's reins on his own projects.
However, the screenwriter – who won an Oscar for best original screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – may be less averse to taking on commercial work than one might previously have imagined.
Empire online says he has done uncredited rewrite work on several big budget films, including Kung Fu Panda 2.
As well as taking on The Knife of Never Letting Go, Kaufman will follow up his 2008 flick Synecdoche, New York with the self-penned Frank or Francis, in which Steve Carell's flick director goes up against a blogger played by Jack Black.
Nicolas Cage, Elizabeth Banks, Catherine Keener, Kevin Kline and Paul Reubens are also said to be in negotiations.
The Chaos Walking trilogy, written by London-based US author Ness, has been widely praised by critics since the first instalment appeared in 2008.
The Knife of Never Letting Go won the Guardian children's fiction prize in 2008 and the final book in the series, Monsters of Men, won the Carnegie medal last year.
The middle novel is titled The Ask and the Answer.
Charlie KaufmanScience fiction and fantasyAction and adventurePatrick NessBen Childguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
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