With a possible Michael Crichton double feature — Jurassic Park and Rising Sun — soon to be at the local multiplex, moviegoers can expect still more Crichton creations as producers scramble for the rights to as-yet-unfilmed books by the author cum profit center. What’s next?
· DISCLOSURE: The next film from the Crichton canon may well be this story about a male executive whose career is threatened by allegations of sexual harassment. In June, Warner Bros. paid an estimated $3.5 million for the film rights to the novel, to be published by Knopf early next year. Given that Crichton walked out of the Rising Sun production over differences with director Philip Kaufman, the author has signed on as producer in order to have more control over Disclosure. ”I’m sure he’ll cast it, do everything,” says a Crichton publicist.
· CONGO: Much like the Disclosure deal, Twentieth Century Fox bought the film rights to this 1980 sci-fi suspense novel about diamond prospectors in Africa before Crichton had begun the book. According to the film’s original producer, Frank Yablans, the studio paid ”seven figures — a hell of a lot less than if it were written today.” Since then, Congo has languished in development purgatory. A proposed 1982 production, with Steven Spielberg producing and Brian De Palma directing, never materialized. Congo‘s prospects seemed brighter in January, when Jurassic producer Kathleen Kennedy and partner Frank Marshall (who have a development deal with Paramount) approached Yablans in hopes of producing the film. Marshall may direct; casting has not yet begun.
Producer’s alert: This leaves almost a dozen Crichton tomes still unfilmed. As William Morris agent Alan Gasmer says, ”Everybody is digging into the back catalog to see what might have been overlooked.”