Thursday, November 19, 2009

DiBonaventura sets up 'Secret'

Company to produce 'Nicholas Flamel' series
Aiming to jump-start another fantasy franchise, Lorenzo di Bonaventura has snapped up rights to produce Michael Scott's six-part fantasy series "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel."

Deal, announced Wednesday, returns di Bonaventura to familiar turf -- even though he's best known for robust actioners such as the "Transformers" pics -- as a key player in getting the lucrative Harry Potter franchise off the ground as production president at Warner Bros. in 1999 when the studio bought the rights to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. He shepherded the first two Potter pics into production before departing three years later for a producing deal at Paramount.

The six Potter pics have gone on to gross a collective $5.38 billion in worldwide box office.

Scott's series follows 15-year-old twins Sophie and Josh as they pursue adventure across several continents with the immortal alchemist of the title. Flamel, an actual French alchemist born in 1330, was included in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first film and book in the series.

The "Flamel" series had been optioned by New Line three years ago and was set up with Mark Burnett to produce what the studio hoped would be a six-picture franchise (Daily Variety, Nov. 21, 2006). But in the wake of New Line's downsizing by Warner Bros. last year, the "Flamel" rights became available again. Scott and Barry Krost will exec produce the films.

"The Alchemyst," "The Magician" and "The Sorceress" are the first three of Scott's books in the series published by Delacorte Press Books, an imprint of Random House, and are available in 37 countries and 20 languages. The fourth book, "The Necromancer," will be published in May.

Di Bonaventura's recent productions include "G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra," the two "Transformers" pics and the upcoming "Salt," starring Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber.

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