By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 3, 2011 at 2:41AM
Script From 'One Day' Writer David Nicholls
Mike Newell is a frustrating guy. The kind of genre-hopping director we normally take to our hearts at The Playlist, but with more unpredictable results than helmers like Michael Winterbottom and Steven Soderbergh, it seems that for every good Newell film, there's a terrible counterpart. He was behind the classic mob drama "Donnie Brasco," but also the deathly dull Marquez adaptation "Love in the Time of Cholera," he helmed both seminal rom-com "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and the awful "Mona Lisa Smile," and even his tentpole history is checkered: he directed both one of the better "Harry Potter" entries and, most recently, the truly terrible "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time."
It's unclear which Newell will turn up for his next project -- he was briefly linked to the revolving door on "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies," and was talking up a thriller about Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy murdered through radiation poisoning in London -- but it looks like the helmer has found his next film, as Screen Daily report that he's in advanced negotiations to direct a new adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations."
The book, which follows orphan Pip across thirty years, as he encounters characters like escaped convict Magwitch and the shut-away Miss Havisham, while falling for the latter's adopted daughter Estella, has seen a number of adaptations over the years; David Lean's 1946 version is easily the best, while the most recent was Alfonso Cuaron's 1998 modern reworking, with Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert De Niro.
The new take, from Number 9 Films ("Made in Dagenham") has a script from David Nicholls, the writer of both the source material and the screenplay for Lone Scherfig's much-anticipated "One Day," who wrote on his blog back in 2009 that "needless to say David Lean’s classic version casts a long shadow, but I’m confident that we’ve come up with a new take on the wonderful material, something that feels fresh and new while still being largely faithful to the book." By most accounts, Nicholls pulled it off; the script made the 2009 Brit List, which bodes well.
Assuming Newell signs on, and it's looking likely, it'll serve as his next project, with filming set to kick off in the next few months. In theory, this should play to Newell's strengths, but as we've discussed, he's come undone in literary adaptations before. Hopefully Nicholls' script should make his life easier. We imagine casting will begin soon, and we'll bring more once we hear anything.