Cover for Paulo Coelho's 'The Alchemist,' 25th anniversary edition

One of Hollywood’s Most Cursed Adaptations Might Be Escaping Development Hell

To paraphrase Leonardo DiCaprio’s anxious protagonist in Don’t Look Up, everything is impossible until it happens, and so the term “unfilmable” should be taken with less than a grain of salt. After all, there was once this niche little book called The Lord of the Rings that many deemed unadaptable for the screen, and I don’t think I need to tell you what became of that.

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That being said, Paulo Coelho’s international bestseller The Alchemist just might actually be unfilmable, but that’s apparently not going to stop scribe Jack Thorne (Enola Holmes) or studios Legendary and TriStar from giving it a go anyway.

Per Variety, the film rights for the acclaimed novel have officially been snapped up by Legendary, with Thorne set to pen the screenplay and TriStar handling its distribution. Realistically, it’s probably not genuinely unfilmable—the story follows a young boy who sets off on an adventure to the Egyptian pyramids after receiving a tantalizing omen from the universe—but given Hollywood’s history with trying and failing to bring this story to the big screen, you’d be forgiven for thinking so.

The Alchemist‘s Hollywood campaign goes all the way back to the early 1990s, not long after Coelho’s book first hit shelves back in 1988, when Warner Bros. acquired the rights to a film adaptation, with one Laurence Fishburne attached as the director. The film lagged in development hell for years before finally sputtering out around the late 2010s.

Then 2021 came along, as did Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s production bid for another film adaptation of The Alchemist, which went to the recycling bin pretty much right out of the gate.

But who knows? Maybe the third time is the charm for the long-gestating big-screen debut of The Alchemist. In any case, the world probably won’t be giving up on it any time soon, given that its status as the single most translated work by a living author makes it one of the most potentially lucrative patients of the reimagining treatment—to say nothing of its wondrously inspiring, mythopoeic ethos that would no doubt touch the hearts of many a wider audience if the movie stuck the necessary landing.

(featured image: HarperOne)


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Author
Charlotte Simmons
Charlotte is a freelance writer at The Mary Sue and We Got This Covered. She's been writing professionally since 2018 (a year before she completed her English and Journalism degrees at St. Thomas University), and is likely to exert herself if given the chance to write about film or video games.