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Rupert Wyatt To Direct Adaptation Of Sebastian Faulks' WWI Novel 'Birdsong'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 5, 2013 at 8:58AM

For someone who might be one of the most sought-after directors around right now, Rupert Wyatt is certainly taking his time picking his next project. It's been eighteen months since Wyatt's second film, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," proved to be a surprisingly huge hit, which marked him in the eyes of many as the next Christopher Nolan. But Wyatt dropped out of the sequel, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," citing a reluctance to rush the film for a summer 2014 release date, and while other films are in the mix -- sci-fi actioner "Agent 13" with Charlize Theron, based-in-fact Russian spy tale "Londongrad" -- the only thing Wyatt has committed to is the pilot of AMC's Civil War-era spy series "Turn."
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Rupert Wyatt Birdsong

For someone who might be one of the most sought-after directors around right now, Rupert Wyatt is certainly taking his time picking his next project. It's been eighteen months since Wyatt's second film, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," proved to be a surprisingly huge hit, which marked him in the eyes of many as the next Christopher Nolan. But Wyatt dropped out of the sequel, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," citing a reluctance to rush the film for a summer 2014 release date, and while other films are in the mix -- sci-fi actioner "Agent 13" with Charlize Theron, based-in-fact Russian spy tale "Londongrad" -- the only thing Wyatt has committed to is the pilot of AMC's Civil War-era spy series "Turn."

But some news has arrived of another potential project, and it's actually one that Wyatt has been involved with for quite a while. Screen Daily reports that Embankment Films are backing "Birdsong," an adaptation of the acclaimed Sebastian Faulks novel set during World War I, with Wyatt slated to direct. The filmmaker was actually originally prepping the project four years back, after his debut, "The Escapist," and cast Michael Fassbender, Paddy Considine and Brian Cox in the film back in the day.

The film never happened, and Wyatt went to Hollywood for his monkey business, but it looks like it's back on the agenda now. Faulks' novel, one of the best-loved of the 1990s, follows Stephen Wraysford, who falls in love with a married French woman before the war, but is sent to the trenches when war breaks out.

We have to admit we'd assumed that "Birdsong" was long dead, as the novel was adapted into a two-part, three-hour miniseries by the BBC and PBS last year, written by "Shame" scribe Abi Morgan, and starring Eddie Redmayne, Clemence Posey, Matthew Goode and Joseph Mawle. But clearly it's a passion project for Wyatt, who's adapted the script himself, and he still seems to be intent on making the film. Presumably he'll shoot the "Turn" pilot first, but if Embankment can raise the funds at the European Film Market this week, it might well end up being his next feature, and it's a smart left-turn for the director to go from tentpoles to something that could attract awards.

The company (which has financed the Naomi Watts-starring "Diana") has a diverse slate in Berlin, with Wyatt also producing the Nova Scotia-set thriller "Sleeping Dogs" from writer/director Erica Beeney for them, while they're also selling "Animal Farm," the 3D mo-cap version of George Orwell's classic novel to be directed by Wyatt's 'Apes' collaborator Andy Serkis. And there's also "Our Robot Overlords," a $21 million sci-fi to star Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and directed by "Grabbers" helmer Jon Wright. We'll see as the week develops if any of them get any traction. Watch the trailer for the BBC's "Birdsong" below.

This article is related to: Birdsong, Rupert Wyatt