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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - United Artists has paid seven figures to option the film rights for children's literature series "Ranger's Apprentice," a project that could be directed by Oscar-winning "Crash" filmmaker Paul Haggis.
The studio said Haggis had been in discussions to adapt and direct the first movie of the series, but those negotiations were halted by the writers strike, which is now in its third month with no end in sight. The MGM-owned studio, run by Tom Cruise and his business partner, is close to sealing its own contract with the Writers Guild of America, which would allow it to work again with union scribes.
The fantasy series by Australian author John Flanagan follows the adventures of an orphan named Will who becomes an apprentice ranger and fights to keep the mythical kingdom of Araluen safe from invaders, traitors and other dangers with the help of his master Halt.
Flanagan was an ad copy writer who began writing the book to inspire his bored son to read. The first book, "The Ruins of Gorlan," was released in Australia in November 2004 and seven months later in the United States. Seven books have been released to date.
If Haggis' deal is completed, it would be a move into new territory for the filmmaker, who was most recently in theaters with the Iraq War drama "In the Valley of Elah."