The Alchemist Film Adaptation’s Production Delayed Again Due to Financial Difficulties

The Alchemist Film Adaptation’s Production Delayed Again Due to Financial Difficulties

Production on the long awaited screen adaptation of The Alchemist, the acclaimed best-selling novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, has been unexpectedly delayed again, as financing has hit undisclosed obstacles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie was in pre-production, with the crew and some cast members already on location, when it was shut down. As a result, everyone who was on the set was sent home.

The news comes after it was announced earlier this month at the Cannes Film Festival that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s movie and television studio, Westbrook Studios, would be collaborating with Netter Films to produce The Alchemist. PalmStar Media, which had acquired the screen rights to the book approximately five years ago, was set to finance the movie adaptation.

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PalmStar Media’s founder, Kevin Frakes, has signed on to direct the drama, which has cast Sebastian de Souza, Tom Hollander and Shohreh Aghdashloo. The film was scheduled to begin shooting in September in Morocco, and released next year.

Westbrook Studios, PalmStar Media and Netter Films didn’t offer any comments on the delay in production. But a production spokesperson for The Alchemist said the screen adaptation remains fully financed, and was actually contending with a rights-transfer issue. The issue is expected to be resolved in the coming days, and the movie would potentially be in production again within weeks.

“This isn’t a financing issue, this is just an issue with a rights transfer,” the spokesperson said in an email to the Hollywood Reporter. “There was a gap in an ordinary-course execution of the production rights transfer, and as a result, production entered a temporary shutdown. We expect to be back up and running with our incredible cast and crew as soon as the rights transfer concludes, and we can get everyone back on set.”

Warner Bros. first acquired the film rights for The Alchemist from Coelho in the early 1990s. Laurence Fishburne, who’s a fan of the novel, acquired the movie rights from the studio, and planned to adapt and direct the screen adaptation himself.

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Then in 2008, The Weinstein Company partnered with Fishburne to produce the drama, and bought the film rights.

It was then reported in 2015 that Idris Elba was cast in the Weinstein adaptation, with Fishburne still set to helm the project. But after continued delays, PalmStar Media acquired movie rights the following year. The Academy Award-nominated actor was still attached to direct the adaptation at the time.

When the news that Westbrook Studios had signed on to help adapt The Alchemist was announced earlier this month at Cannes, Fishburne was no longer attached to helm the project. Frakes was instead set to make his feature film directorial debut on the project, after he co-wrote the screenplay.

Coelho’s novel, which has sold over 100 million copies since its 1988 publication, holds the Guinness World Record for most translated work by a living author. The story follows a young Spanish shepherd who has a dream and embarks on a quest to find hidden treasure in the great pyramids of Egypt.

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