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Dakota Fanning Nears Deal on Gayle Forman's If I Stay

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | December 15, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | December 15, 2009 |

Catherine Hardwicke, who Summit Entertainment unceremoniously dumped from Twilight after it made her the highest grossing female director of all time, is apparently not completely on the outs with Summit. She’s attached to direct If I Stay, based on the Gayle Forman YA novel, which has been adapted for the screen by Shauna Cross (who scripted the under-appreciated Whip It).

The movie is about a young woman — a cellist dating a “rocker” type — who is about to be accepted into Juilliard. The woman gets in a car accident, her parents die instantly, and the movie follows the 24-hour out-of-body experience she has while she’s in a coma.

Here’s what we now know about the project: Dakota Fanning is in negotiations to take the lead role of Mia Hill in the film, and obviously, she’s ideal. She’s got an existing relationship with Summit (see New Moon) and she can actually act, and it’s apparent that she’s trying to engage with an younger audience than she usually appealed to as a child actor.

What we don’t know, however, is whether Hardwicke is still set to direct. She’s attached, but Summit is apparently making If I Stay a priority, and even wants to begin filming on it in the early summer of 2010. Whether Hardwicke eventually directs will likely be dictated by her own schedule — she’s in the process of developing a big-screen version of Hamlet with Emile Hirsch, as well as a Gothic version of the classic Red Riding Hood tale, which she is committed to.

Presumably, if Hardwicke doesn’t come aboard, this will be another case of Summit opting for a quick turnaround, rather than waiting on Hardwicke, which is what happened with New Moon, after Hardwicke balked at the short window between the two Twilight movies (and the brief development time clearly shows in New Moon). If so, that means Summit may be breaking the If I Stay olive branch before it was even fully extended.

Of course, while we do know that Fanning is negotiating to take the lead role in If I Stay, the Hardwicke piece is mostly conjuncture on my part, based on the fact that Summit is searching for another director, though that search may be simply limited to a back-up director, should Hardwicke be unable to line up her ducks in time for filming, which is set to take place in Toronto.

Source: The Hollywood Cog

[Photo: Anthony Citrano]

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.