Last month, super-producer Scott Rudin bought the rights to Jonathan Franzen's Great American Novel Freedom shortly before the author's face hit the cover of Time and the book became a lightning rod, causing bitter feuding among those who'd not actually read it yet (Freedom was finally released last Wednesday). Rudin hasn't yet set it up at a studio or hired a director, but he'll have time to do that after he's finished bringing to screen the small bookstore of other novels he owns the film rights for. What else does Hollywood's foremost adapter of literature have in the pipeline? We've done some investigating!
Here's everything we could find, in alphabetical order:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)
Rudin bought Kavalier in 2000 and hired Chabon to write the screenplay. Stephen Daldry was attached to direct, but after a few false starts, development ground to a halt. "We had been green-lighted, and we had part of a cast. Tobey Maguire was supposed to star, and Natalie Portman," Chabon said in 2007. "Then around Thanksgiving it just completely went south for studio-politics kinds of reasons that I'm not privy to."
The Believers by Zoe Heller (2009)
He optioned this screwed-up family story last year, upon the book's release, for Patrick Marber to script. No word yet on how that's going.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)
After rescuing Merdian from Ridley Scott in 2008 — and following his Best Picture victory with McCarthy's No Country — Rudin hired Todd Field to write and direct the Western. It'll be out in 2011, allegedly.
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)
Rudin optioned Franzen's previous masterpiece a month before its release, hiring Stephen Daldry to direct and David Hare to write the screenplay. In 2005, Robert Zemeckis was announced as the director, with Judi Dench, Brad Pitt, Tim Robbins, and Naomi Watts said to have joined the cast. In 2007, Hare was still reportedly writing the script. Hurry up, man!
The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden (2006)
Rudin and Disney scored the rights to adapt this (slightly unfilmable-seeming) guide to manly living following a bidding war in 2007. Dangerous.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)
Rudin optioned the book shortly after its publication. It was reported three weeks ago that Stephen Daldry will direct Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks in the movie, to be released in 2012 by Paramount and Warner Bros.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (2005)
You know all about this one already, but Rudin scored the American film rights for Tattoo, along with those for its two sequels, last December. The movie will be out in 2011 with Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander.
Indignation by Philip Roth (2008)
When he bought Indignation months before it hit shelves in 2008, Rudin was criticized because so many of Roth's other books have had trouble making it to multiplexes. But, hey, maybe this one, about a sheltered college kid who dies in the Korean War, will be different.
Lush Life by Richard Price (2008)
Miramax and Rudin acquired this LES-set procedural in 2008 and asked Price to write the screenplay, even though he'd also scripted Rudin's Shaft and Ransom. Third time's the charm, we hope!
Maynard & Jennica by Rudolph Delson (2007)
Rudin and Miramax optioned this New York–based love story, set partially on 9/11, in 2008 and hired Liz Meriwether to do the script.
Memory's Ghost: The Nature of Memory and the Strange Tale of Mr. M by Philip J. Hilts (1996)
Rudin bought this one last February and plans to make it the basis for a movie at Columbia about Henry Molaison, a guy whose brain surgery left him without the ability to form new memories — so he'll never remember if Rudin just forgets to make a movie about him (also, he is dead).
Oh the Glory of It All by Sean Wilsey (2005)
Just a couple of weeks after winning an armload of Oscars for No Country for Old Men, Miramax and Rudin teamed up and bought the rights to Wilsey's fact-based story about growing up in a rich San Francisco family.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith (2005)
He bought Smith's third novel, about a mixed-race British family living in the U.S., in 2005, with no movement reported since then.
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (2006)
When last we heard — which was all the way back in May of 2007 — Half Nelson team Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden were writing and directing Physics, about a precocious high schooler traveling across America with her academic dad. Sounds good to us.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)
Rudin and Columbia scored the rights to Hosseini's The Kite Runner follow-up in 2007, with Steve Zallian onboard to script. That was before Marc Forster's Kite Runner movie opened to mixed reviews, controversy, and only one Oscar nod, though.
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris (2010)
Gripped by the national hysteria over Ferris's And Then We Came to the End in 2008, Rudin bought the rights to his next book — about a guy with a mysterious, undiagnosable disease that causes him to go on spontaneous, unstoppable walks — after reading just a partial manuscript. We've not heard much since, though, so maybe he didn't like the ending.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (2007)
Rudin optioned Union in 2002, five years before the novel's publication, based on a one-page treatment. In 2008, he told The Guardian the Coen brothers would direct an adaptation right after they finished A Serious Man (they did not). Maybe they'll do it after True Grit?
So, which ones did we miss?