Is ‘The Alchemist’ Finally Hitting the Big Screen?

Stephen Chernin/AFP/Getty Images

Stephen Chernin/AFP/Getty Images

The Alchemist may soon be finally hitting the big screen, with Idris Elba at the forefront. The Beasts of No Nation star is reportedly in talks to star in the long-gestating film adaptation of Paul Coelho’s 1988 bestselling novel.

Coelho’s masterful work chronicles the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. The treasures he finds along the way reveal stories about the importance of listening to your heart, following your dreams and learning to look for the signs that pop up along life’s path. The book has become somewhat of a legendary sensation in the publishing industry, having sold more than 65 million copies in 56 different languages.

A film version of the book has long since been in the works. Coelho first sold the rights to Warner Bros in 1994. After the project stalled, the author tried to buy back the rights, but all of his offers were refused. Actor and filmmaker Laurence Fishburne eventually acquired the feature rights, which were reportedly sold again for a reported $3 million to The Weinstein Company in 2008. The film has remained a passion project for both Weinstein and Fishburne and now it seems it could finally be making some progress.

According to Deadline, The Weinstein Company, which is producing the movie, is now in talks with both Fishburne and Elba to direct and star, respectively. While neither star has officially closed a deal yet, the film distribution company is reportedly hoping to begin production sometime in 2016. After being stuck in Hollywood purgatory for so many years, the start of the negotiations could mark a major step forward for the long-awaited adaptation.

If they do choose to sign on, Fishburne and Elba will have their work cut out for them. As Deadline reports, one of the issues that has kept the project in development for so long is the recurring question of how big to go with the film. Since Coehlo’s story has largely spiritual elements, the matter of exactly how much action should be mixed in has proven to be tricky and budgets for the film have ranged anywhere from $60 million up to $100 million. The Weinstein Company hasn’t commented on the reports yet, so audiences will have to stay tuned to see what direction Elba and Fishburne’s iteration will go in, should it move forward.

In the meantime, Elba has a jam-packed schedule of projects. The actor, who recently made a brief appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, will next star in Netflix’s award season-friendly Beasts of No Nation. He is set to co-star in the indie feature A Hundred Streets and will also headline the upcoming action flick, Bastille Day, due in July 2016. The actor will lend his voice to two animated films next year as well, Disney’s The Jungle Book and Pixar’s Finding Dory. Elba also has Star Trek 3 scheduled to hit theaters in 2016 and the crime thriller The Trap, due out in 2017.

The star is also staying busy behind the cameras. He’s producing a one-hour documentary Mandela, My Dad & Me via his production banner Green Door Pictures. The project will chronicle the story behind the creation of Mi Mandela, an album of South African music recorded by Elba in tribute to Mandela.

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