By Matt Millikan | Monday April 29 2013
Debut novelist Graeme Simsion can do no wrong. Not only has The Rosie Project been sold to over 30 countries, it’s also just had the screen rights optioned by Sony Pictures.
According to Deadline the screen adaptation will be produced by longtime colleagues and Sony executives Matt Tolmach and Michael Costigan, working together as producers for the first time. Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad and production president Hannah Minghella closed the deal with Simsion, who adapted the novel from a screenplay he started as a creative writing student in Melbourne. Now it has come full circle, with Simsion having written the screenplay of the novel that was based on his screenplay.
‘We love this story,’ Minghella stated. ‘Not only does it have tremendous commercial appeal, but a wonderfully interesting, groundbreaking lead character. There’s already been an incredible response to this novel in Australia and the UK and we think it will strike a similar chord in the States.’
It seems likely, with The Rosie Project a bonafide hit that has so far netted Simsion around $1.8 million AUD. In a sign of its continued success, one of America’s major publishing houses Simon & Schuster will publish in America in October.
While talking to Simsion earlier this month he mentioned shopping the script, not only the book rights, around Hollywood and already having interest from studios. If the screenplay is anything like his manuscript, Simsion would’ve had no shortage of suitors. Almost every major publishing house in Australia bid on the manuscript, with Simsion eventually deciding on Text Publishing.
The Rosie Project follows genetics professor Don Tilman as he undertakes The Wife Project, a curiously scientific approach to matrimony based on a questionnaire that hopefully uncovers his ideal partner. In traditional screwball style, Rosie is anything but perfect candidate, yet still might be the one.
Yet much of the success of Simsion’s book is based on the unique narrative voice of Tilman, who suffers from undiagnosed Asperger’s, with much of the charm coming from the protagonist’s inner world. We wondered how he might translate that from page to screen.
‘In The Rosie Project what Don thinks is a very big part of it,’ he said. ‘That’s why you get the buddy in film, rather than being what Don’s thoughts are, because Don describe them to us, Don will tell Gene.’
It’s not the first time that Simsion’s tried to have the film made. According to the writer, the script was with a producer for a year earlier in its existence but didn’t go anywhere. In order to get it off the ground, he wrote the novel. As he tells the Penguin Blog, one of the reasons to write the novel ‘was to get more attention for the script to help fund the making of the film’.
Matt Millikan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Millikan is a writer and assistant editor at artsHub. You can follow him @MattMEsq