word craft


Movie option

True Confessions of Charlotte DoyleA recent post—prompted by one of my readers—asked blog read­ers to sug­gest which of my books would they most like to see made into a movie. While a fair num­ber sug­gest­ed Crispin, and The Fight­ing Ground, most folks sug­gest­ed The True Con­fes­sions of Char­lotte DoyleOver the years any num­ber of peo­ple have tak­en out options [con­trac­tu­al agree­ments which per­mit work­ing on a pro­duc­tion] of my books. No films have been made. The one that came clos­est was Char­lotte.

Any­one who took an inter­est in the book was told that the only con­tract I would agree to sign was one which agreed not to change the ending.

If I remem­ber cor­rect­ly, it was Dan­ny DeVito’s young daugh­ter who brought the book to her father’s atten­tion. He took an option on the book and held it, I believe, for about sev­en years.

He wrote a script, of which I approved. I had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet with Mr. DeVi­to in his home, where he dis­cussed all the things he planned to do with the film. He even showed me a large mod­el of The Sea­hawk, which he had built.

As it devel­oped (over the years) DeVi­to was going to direct the film. Mor­gan Free­man was going to play Zachari­ah, and Pierce Bros­nan was to play Jag­gery. Dako­ta Fan­ning was the first choice to play Char­lotte. When the project was con­tin­u­al­ly delayed, Saoirse Ronan was con­sid­ered for the part.

The project advanced—(I don’t remem­ber who was final­ly going to act Charlotte)—the film­ing sched­uled, an old sail­ing ship (on Lake Erie) was char­tered to serve as The Sea­hawk, cos­tumes and props were made.

City of OrphansTwo weeks pri­or to the com­mence­ment of film­ing, Mor­gan Free­man had a car acci­dent and was seri­ous­ly hurt. The short of it is that the whole pro­duc­tion was halt­ed and was nev­er resumed. The option expired and was not renewed.

[Keep in mind my knowl­edge of all this is at best sketchy because—having noth­ing to do with the production—I learned of things only second-hand.]

Would I like a film made of the book? Sure. Will it hap­pen? I doubt it. How­ev­er, to answer the ques­tion in the orig­i­nal post as to which of my books I would most like to see made into a film, I’d have to say, City of Orphans.

5 thoughts on “Movie option”

  1. Thank you for answer­ing many long held ques­tions I had about the DeVi­to option for Char­lotte Doyle. I’m so sor­ry that the movie was­n’t made, but I know the ver­sion you con­jured in my head as a read­er would be dif­fi­cult to beat.

    City of Orphans would be an excel­lent film as well. I will revis­it it with an eye toward its future in Hollywood.

    Many thanks.

  2. The City of Orphans was a great book, how­ev­er, I am still stick­ing to my choice of the Crispin series, main­ly because of it’s set­ting and the fact that it is a tril­o­gy. Maybe if it does get made into a movie, the last book will get made into 2 parts, just like plen­ty of oth­er mod­ern day book-to-movie transitions.


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