After more than two decades of delays and setbacks, it appeared as though ‘The Alchemist,’ a feature adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s best-selling novel, would finally get made. However, the film has encountered a new roadblock.
Earlier this month, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios announced a partnership with Netter Films to produce ‘The Alchemist,’ starring Sebastian de Souza, Tom Hollander, and Shohreh Aghdashloo.
PalmStar Media, which acquired the screen rights to the book approximately five years ago, would finance the project, with Kevin Frakes, the company’s founder, set to direct. A September shoot in Morocco was imminent, and the film was scheduled for release in 2022.
However, with the project now in preproduction and the crew and some cast already on location, the film’s path to the screen has taken a turn for the better. According to sources, financing has encountered undisclosed roadblocks.
According to sources, the project has been halted and the crew has been sent home.
However, a production spokesperson stated that the film is still fully funded and encountered a rights transfer issue. The issue is expected to be resolved in the coming days, resuming the project’s progress within weeks.
“This is not a financing issue; this is a rights transfer issue,” the spokesperson explained via email.
“There was a lapse in the execution of the production rights transfer in the ordinary course, and as a result, production was temporarily halted. We anticipate resuming production with our incredible cast and crew as soon as the rights transfer is complete and everyone can return to set “Additionally, the spokesperson stated.
Coelho’s novel, which has sold over 100 million copies worldwide since its 1988 publication and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most translated work by a living author, centres on a young Spanish shepherd who has a dream and sets out on a quest to discover hidden treasure in Egypt’s great pyramids.
Warner Bros. first acquired the film rights from the Brazilian author in the early 1990s, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Laurence Fishburne, a novel fan, purchased the film rights from the studio with the intention of adapting and directing the film himself. The Weinstein Co. joined as producers in 2008, partnering with Fishburne and acquiring the film’s rights.
Idris Elba was reportedly attached to star in the Weinstein adaptation in 2015, with Fishburne set to direct, but the project was shelved a few months later, and PalmStar acquired the film rights and developed screenplays for USD 5 million in 2016.
Fishburne was still attached to direct at this point. “It has resurfaced,” Fishburne told THR in 2018, adding that the feature will be completed “sooner rather than later.”
By the time the project was announced in July 2021, Fishburne had stepped down as director, with PalmStar principal Frakes set to make his feature directorial debut, having co-written the screenplay.
Netter mentioned the story’s themes of never giving up in a statement earlier this month.
“Over the last three decades, hundreds of millions of people have found inspiration in The Alchemist to pursue their dreams, listen to their hearts, and never lose hope in the face of adversity,” he said.
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