After a much-deserved two year break in between mammoth productions, Peter Jackson is taking his first, tentative steps toward directing again by shopping his take on Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones around to the studios. As someone who had little use for King Kong, I think this is great news; at his best, Jackson is one of the most visually inventive filmmakers working today, and he thrives when working on projects with a limited scope.
Sebold’s novel, which Jackson has adapted with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, tells the tale of Susie Salmon, a fourteen-year-old girl who, after being raped and murdered, continues to monitor the growth and disintegration of her family as they cope with their loss. The macabre mixture of grief and sentimentality, told from the perspective of an adolescent ghost, always seemed like an ideal change of pace for Jackson after the rigors of The Lord of the Rings; though it sounds somewhat more cuddly than Heavenly Creatures (maybe his best all-around film to date), the thought of Jackson and Walsh returning to the battleground of young female adolescence (even as it exists in heaven) is an agreeable one.
But Jackson will need to snag a studio partner before he begins cracking on pre-production; toward that end, he sent the spec script out to all of the majors today – save for New Line thanks to an ongoing legal pissing match with Bob Shaye – in the hopes that a bidding war of some sort will break out (while also hoping to not hear the same chorus of crickets that greeted M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening awhile back). If studios are still eager to be in the Peter Jackson business (and, so long as he’s working on this small of a scale, why shouldn’t they be?), expect a deal to be announced before the end of the week.