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The Frustrating History of Dave Eggers Film Adaptations

It’s kind of crazy that no film studio has yet to successfully adapted one of Dave Eggers’ books for the big screen. Considering he’s been a literary rock star since the release of his breakout memoir, 2000’s “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” it seems to reason that we’d have seen at least one of his books hit the big screen by now. Is it possible that Eggers’ work is somehow too literary to make for an easy adaptation? In search of an answer, we investigated the status of his books’ journeys to the big screen. Read on for the latest info, plus the scoop on a couple of other film projects he’s involved with. And keep your fingers crossed that we’ll get to see one of his books on the big screen soon.

In 2002, New Line pictures optioned Eggers’ award-winning memoir about raising his younger brother after the death of their parents. The property spent several years in development and a screenplay was penned by fellow one-time “it” author Nick Hornby and D.V. DeVincentis, but the project eventually evaporated. “The option ran out,” he told Entertainment Weekly in a 2007 interview. “So that will probably be the end of that.”

Miguel Arteta (”The Good Girl”) is attached to direct the film adaptation of Eggers’ first novel, the story of a pair of childhood friends who travel the globe giving away the large sum of money one of them is uncomfortable with having earned — a plot at least partially inspired by Eggers’ own overnight success in the literary world. “With the ‘Velocity’ movie,” Eggers told Entertainment Weekly about the production, “We’re talking very, very small numbers. It’s a small independent production company.” Wells Tower, a contributor to The Believer, will write the screenplay.

Tom Twyker (”Run Lola Run”) is involved in the big-screen version of “What Is the What,” the semi-fictionalized biography of a Sudanese refugee who journeys from his village in Sudan to Ethiopia, Kenya and eventually to the U.S.

Other film projects:
In addition to “Away We Go,” which he wrote with his wife, and which will be directed by Sam Mendes (”Revolutionary Road”) and star John Krasinksi and Maya Rudolph, Eggers himself has been hard at work on an adaptation of his own — Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” which Spike Jonze is directing. The film, which is a mix of live-action, CGI and animatronics, was originally being made for Universal, but after the studio and Jonze clashed, he brought it to Warner Bros. It cost a reported $80 million, and at one point, the troubled production was rumored to be re-shooting nearly the entire film. “The jury is still out on this one,” Alan Horn, President of Warner Bros, told the L.A. Times. “But we remain confident that Spike is going to figure things out and at the end of the day we’ll have an artistically compelling movie.” Karen O from the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs is on board to create the soundtrack and Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini and Forest Whitaker will star.


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