Alchemyst, The Portable Door to shoot in Oz

Big screen adaptations of popular novels by Irishman Michael Scott and Englishman Tom Holt are to be produced in Australia.

Mario Andreacchio bought the rights to The Alchemyst, the first in the series of Scott’s six fantasy novels entitled The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

Andreacchio will serve as one of the producers on the $75 million film along with Los Angeles-based Greg Coote and other partners who are yet to be revealed.

Todd Fellman (Bait, Mental, A Few Best Men) will produce a family film adapted from Holt’s novel The Portable Door for the Jim Henson Co.

Both projects came to light on Tuesday at the session Working with the USA- The Eagle & The Kangaroo: Co-financing Across the Pacific at the Screen Forever conference.

Coote told the session Andreacchio bought the rights and brought the project to him. He said it would be an Australian production, thus qualifying for the 40% producer offset, budgeted at $75 million. He boasted that some “major talent” is attached which he is not ready to announce.

The plot follows twins Josh and Sophie Newman who discover the bookstore where Josh works is owned by a 14th Century alchemist and his wife who have cheated death with a magic elixir. When the potion is stolen by the villainous John Dee they must recover it before he carries out his Apocalyptic plans.

Coote told IF the director is not yet set but he hopes to reveal his US partners and financiers imminently.

Tracey Vieira, Executive VP International at Ausfilm, told the session the decision to shoot The Portable Door in Oz followed an Ausfilm-sponsored visit by the Henson Co. producer Bianca Lista.

Vieira told IF Lista will produce the family film with Fellman and the screenplay is being written by Leon Ford (Offspring, House Husbands, Griff the Invisible)

The novel has been described as The Devil’s Advocate meets Harry Potter as it follows a university drop-out who discovers his new employer is a front for a sinister organisation.

The session moderator, entertainment lawyer Craig Emanuel, who represents See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, said that winning the best film Oscar for The King’s Speech did not earn the producers a lot of money or open as many doors in Hollywood as some might have expected.

Emanuel stressed the value of creating a body of work, noting that US studios, agents and producers are now receptive to Sherman and Canning because their CV includes films such as Shame and Tracks.

Arclight Films Senior VP sales and acquisitions Clay Epstein discussed the numerous territory pre-sales for the Spierig brothers’ time-travelling thriller Predestination.

He disclosed Sony pre-bought six or seven territories but there is a clause in the contract for US rights which gives the studio the right to pass on that key territory after seeing the completed film. In that event the producers would have the right to re-sell US rights for a pre-determined amount, with a percentage of that to buy out Sony.