Taika Waititi In Talks To Direct Adaptation Of Percival Everett’s ‘James’ For Universal, Amblin

After seeing Cord Jefferson win the Adapted Screenplay Oscar for his work on American Fiction, the widely acclaimed adaptation of his 2001 novel Erasure, author Percival Everett has set up his latest book, James, at Universal Pictures, with Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) in talks to direct, Deadline can confirm.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Everett will adapt the screenplay and exec produce, alongside Steven Spielberg for Amblin Partners.

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A modern reimagining of Mark Twain’s classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn published by Doubleday in March, James watches as the enslaved Jim overhears that he is about to be sold to a man in New Orleans, meaning that he’ll potentially be separated from his wife and daughter forever. Subsequently, he decides to hide on nearby Jackson Island until he can formulate a plan. Meanwhile, Huck Finn has faked his own death to escape his violent father, recently returned to town. Thus begins the dangerous and transcendent journey by raft down the Mississippi River toward the elusive and too-often-unreliable promise of the Free States and beyond.

In addition to being an instant New York Times bestseller, James was named a “Best Book of the Year so Far for 2024” by the New York Times Book Review and was named the #1 best book of the year so far by Amazon.

A Distinguished Professor at USC and the author of more than 30 books of fiction and poetry, Everett is also known for works like I Am Not Sidney Poitier, So Much Blue, Pulitzer Prize finalist Telephone, and the Booker Prize-shortlisted The Trees.

Most recently directing the forthcoming sci-fi pic Klara and the Sun, starring Jenna Ortega and Amy Adams, for 3000 Pictures, Waititi prior to that helmed the soccer pic Next Goal Wins. The winner of an Oscar for his script to Jojo Rabbit, he’s also the co-creator of Apple TV+’s upcoming series adaptation of the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits, which is slated to premiere on July 24.

Amblin will next see the release of Lee Isaac Chung’s Twisters, which hits theaters via Universal on July 19.

Variety was first to the news of James.

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