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Weinstein Company Tries Alchemy To Create Box Office Gold

Harvey Weinstein will produce Paulo Coelho's international best-selling novel THE ALCHEMIST, they announced at Cannes Film Festival on Sunday.

The Weinstein Company will hold exclusive world-wide motion picture and television rights for the film. Glen Basner, President of The Weinstein Company International, will handle global sales.

THE ALCHEMIST was packaged by the Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group and represents Laurence Fishburne, the star, director and producer of the project, along with manager Helen Sugland, and attorneys Nina Shaw and Jeff Finkelstein.

The announcement builds on the Weinstein's success of adapting beloved literary classics including THE ENGLISH PATIENT, CIDER HOUSE RULES, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY and COLD MOUNTAIN to film. Since its debut in Brazil in 1988, Paulo Coelho's THE ALCHEMIST has sold 30 million copies and reached first place on best-seller lists in 18 countries.

The Weinstein Company is currently in negotiations with an Academy Award-winning screenwriter to adapt the novel into a screenplay, which will be announced shortly. Production teams from past Weinstein produced films, such as GANGS OF NEW YORK, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, and THE AVIATOR, will be brought on board to work on the film. As producer, Weinstein has already begun to scout locations all over the world.

Various locations in Europe, as well as the Middle East, including Jordan, Abu Dhabi and Northern Africa will serve as backdrops for this global shoot. To join Fishburne in the cast, a search in Spain and Latin America for the role of Santiago will start shortly and other stars are expected to be announced to round out the cast.

Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company said, "Personally producing a project is rare for me, but bringing THE ALCHEMIST to the screen has been my dream. It is a spiritual and moving story and I am thrilled to be working side by side with Laurence. The pieces are now in place to jump start this project and we are eager to get going."

Coelho said, "I am very happy that my book will be filmed in the way I intended it to be and I hope the spirit and simplicity of my work will be preserved."

Fisburne and his producing partner Helen Sugland and their production company Cinema Gypsy. Paula Weinstein and Kathy Morgan are serving as executive producers, along with Steven Markoff and Bruce McNall from A-Mark Entertainment.

Fishburne said, "This is a special project that now has a special team behind it to ensure that its path to the big screen is handled with the proper care it deserves. I am looking forward to directing it, acting in it, and collaborating with Harvey Weinstein to produce a beautiful film that will do justice to Paulo's enormously successful novel."

THE ALCHEMIST is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.

Coelho has sold more than 100 million copies of his books worldwide in 67 languages in more than 150 countries.