After over a decade of languishing within Warner Bros., the adaptation of Paulo Coehlo’s novel The Alchemist is finally moving forward. Idris Elba (pictured above) and Laurence Fishburne have entered talks to be the star and the director, respectively. The adaptation is a passion project for Fishburne and Harvey Weinstein, who is set to produce the movie.
Coehlo’s highly acclaimed book, with 65 million copies sold in 56 languages, tells the story of a young Spaniard who sets out to find a hidden treasure in the pyramids of Egypt, an epic quest that is a spiritual journey more than anything else. The reason for its long development time has been the quandary of how much “action” to include in the movie, as the book itself is more about spirituality than the action of a treasure hunt.
But production has finally started moving forward after Fishburne himself bought the rights from Warner Bros. (after Coehlo had tried and failed several times to reacquire the rights) and will now be making it under the indie banner A-Mark Entertainment. At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Weinstein himself announced that he’d be personally producing the project.
Now, with the production moving forward, the production team under TWC is very interested in having much of the filming take place in the Middle East, following the trend of other movies filming in the urban, desert locations, particularly in and around Abu Dhabi. The filmmakers are believed to be courting money from several sources in the Middle East, where the book has had an amazing success. Weinstein has stated that he’d like the movie to be “a bridge to the Middle East” so that the rest of the world might know more about it.
Laurence Fishburne has been busy with other projects, including Standoff, Pee Wee’s Big Holiday, and a reprisal role of Perry White in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Idris Elba, meanwhile, has been working on several movies, including Star Trek 3, The Jungle Book as the voice role of Shere Khan, and another voice role in the upcoming Pixar movie Finding Dory. He is also working on a passion project documentary about the making of his album Mi Mandela, an album of South African music dedicated to Nelson Mandela.
Production and filming will hopefully begin in 2016, but with no set start to production, there’s no word yet on a release date.