New Line Draws Plans for Jonathan Strange

Its’official: New Line studio is quickly becoming the best place to shop your epic fantasy project. Daily Variety reports today that the studio has made a preemptive deal for the screen rights to Susanna Clarke’s hotter-than-Harry Potter fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Following its Oscar-winning, empire-building investment in the Lord of the Ring franchise, the studio’s top brass Bob Shaye, Michael Lynne and Toby Emmerich are producing The Golden Compass, based on the first book in Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy (with a script by Chris Weitz (About a Boy) who is also set to direct. Also in development at New Line is the film adaptation of Inkheart, a fantasy franchise by German author Cornelia Funke.

Readers have been snapping up copies of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell since its release in the U.S. and U.K. only a month ago. Set in 19th century England, the book follows a master wizard and his apprentice, who join forces to battle Napoleon’s army. Prior to writing her first book, Clarke was a cookbook editor at Simon & Schuster. We have a feeling Colin Farrell and Jude Law are going to be in the running for the leads faster the next Paris Hilton sex tape shows up on the Internet.