Steven Spielberg, Taika Waititi and Universal Teaming to Adapt Percival Everett’s ‘James’

Universal has landed the rights to Erasure author Percival Everett’s James, and is assembling a team of Oscar-winners to bring it to the screen.

Steven Spielberg will executive produce the project via his Amblin Partners, with Taika Waititi in early talks to direct the adaptation. The package comes after American Fiction, an adaptation of Everett’s novel Erasure, took home the adapted screenplay Oscar earlier this year.

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James is a modern reimagining of Mark Twain’s 1884 novel The Adventures Huckleberry Finn, told from the point of view of Jim. According the the logline: “when the enslaved Jim overhears that he is about to be sold to a man in New Orleans, separated from his wife and daughter forever, he decides to hide on nearby Jackson Island until he can formulate a plan. Meanwhile, Huck Finn has faked his own death to escape his violent father, recently returned to town. Thus begins the dangerous and transcendent journey by raft down the Mississippi River toward the elusive and too-often-unreliable promise of the Free States and beyond.”

The book became bestseller when Doubleday published it in March, and is the latest in a line of 30 books of fiction and poetry from Everett, who is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for 2020’s Telephone. He is repped by CAA and the Melanie Jackson Agency.

Spielberg, a three-time Oscar winner for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, is directing a 2026 event film for Universal that will star Emily Blunt. He is repped by CAA and Gang Tyre.

Waititi, who won an adapted screenplay Oscar for Jojo Rabbit, is in post-production on Sony’s Klara and the Sun, starring Jenna Ortega. Waititi is repped by CAA, Manage-ment and Yorn Levine.

Variety first reported the news.

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