After more than two decades of stopping and starting, it looks like Alchemist – a film adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s beloved best-selling novel – will finally be done.
Earlier this month, it was announced at the Cannes Film Festival that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Studios would team up with Netter Films to produce Alchemist with a cast played by Sebastian de Souza, Tom Hollander and Shohreh Aghdashloo. PalmStar Media, which purchased the publishing rights to the book five years ago, will sponsor, with company founder Kevin Frakes directing. A September shoot in Morocco is coming up and is scheduled for a 2022 release.
Now, with the project in pre-production and the crew and some of the cast ready, AlchemistThe journey to the screen has taken the lead. Sources say The Hollywood Reporter that the financing had encountered undisclosed obstacles. According to sources, the project has been discontinued and the crew has returned home.
However, a spokesman for the production said the film was still fully funded and was instead experiencing licensing issues. The issue is expected to be resolved in the coming days and the project is likely to be back on schedule within a few weeks.
“This is not a financial issue, it’s just an issue with the transfer of rights,” the spokesperson said by email. “There was a loophole in the normal process of making transfer of production rights, and as a result, production was temporarily shut down. We hope to be back and up and running with our incredible cast and crew as soon as the transfer of rights is over, and we can get everyone back on set. “
Westbrook was not available for comment, and PalmStar and Netter Films did not respond to requests for comment.
Coelho’s novel – which has sold over 100 million copies since its publication in 1988 and holds the Guinness World Record for most translated work by a living author – revolves around a young Western shepherd. Spain has a dream and embarks on a search for hidden treasures in the great pyramids of Egypt.
Warner Bros. first purchased the film rights from the Brazilian author in the early ’90s. Laurence Fishburne, a fan of the novel, purchased the film rights from the studio, with plans to adapt it himself and film director. That was in 2008, The Weinstein Co. identified himself as a producer, partnered with Fishburne and bought the film rights.
In 2015, it was reported that Idris Elba had been cast to star in Weinstein’s film adaptation, with Fishburne appointed director, but the project was turned around a few months later and in 2016 PalmStar acquired the film rights and developed the screenplay for $5 million. At this point, Fishburne is still attached. “It just came back again,” said Fishburne CHEAP in 2018, adding this feature will come together “sooner rather than later”.
At the time of the July 2021 announcement, Fishburne was no longer directing, with PalmStar principal Frakes instead making his feature film directorial debut on the project, co-writing the script.
In a statement earlier in July, Netter addressed the never-ending theme of the story. “Hundreds of millions of people over the past three decades have found inspiration in Alchemist follow their dreams, listen to their hearts and never lose hope in the face of adversity,” he said.
With this latest development and an uncertain future, it now seems like the sentiments for manufacturers could be more genuine than ever.
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