As a director, About a Boy‘s Paul Weitz has helmed a long list of mainstream comedies, including Down to Earth, Little Fockers, and the upcoming Tina Fey vehicle Admission. But for his next project, the filmmaker set his sights on an adaptation, and the work should supply more drama than laughs. Weitz signed on to translate Ann Patchett’s 2005 New York Times best seller Bel Canto for the big screen. The book has been kicked around to different directors over the years, a fact that would seem surprising until you consider its grand-scale plot. To see what I mean, here’s a summary, courtesy of Amazon:

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds, and people from different continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion . . . and cannot be stopped.

Weitz, who will work with Capote producers Caroline Baron and Anthony Weintraub on the project, is already in the early stages of developing Patchett’s work. In an interview with ShockYa, he revealed his approach to the material, saying that because the book is set largely in one place, it lends itself to being done “compactly.” He elaborated by comparing it to a Buñuel movie where “everybody’s trapped together and there’s a serialistic aspect to it.” Based on this, it seems like Weitz will take a more cautious approach to Bel Canto, which is understandable since his adaptation of Nick Flynn’s memoir Being Flynn flopped.

Though he plans to take the story down to a manageable level, Weitz is still sketchy on the funding, saying, “I’m not deluding myself into thinking that anyone’s gonna give me a lot of money to make it.” Considering the book’s popularity, I’m sure fans will be keeping their fingers crossed.

Have you read Bel Canto? Are you interested in seeing what Weitz does with it?

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