Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 10:36 UK

Alchemist to be made into movie

Laurence Fishburne
Laurence Fishburne will star as the title character in the film

Paulo Coelho's best-selling novel The Alchemist is to be brought to the big screen, it has been announced.

Producer Harvey Weinstein confirmed at the Cannes Film Festival that The Matrix star Laurence Fishburne would star in, direct and produce the film.

The Weinstein Company will also co-produce the adaptation.

Coelho's 1988 novel tells of a Spanish shepherd boy who travels to Africa in search of his dream and meets the alchemist along the way.

"This is a special project that now has a special team behind it to ensure that its path to the big screen is handled with the proper care it deserves," Fishburne said.

I am very happy that my book will be filmed in the way I intended
Paulo Coelho
"I am looking forward to directing it, acting in it, and collaborating with Harvey Weinstein to produce a beautiful film that will do justice to Paulo's enormously successful novel."

The Weinstein Company added it was in negotiations with an Academy Award-winning writer to work on the screenplay.

A search across Spain and Latin America will be made for actors to play the shepherd Santiago and his love interest in the $60m (30m) project.

Coelho said: "I am very happy that my book will be filmed in the way I intended it to be, and I hope the spirit and simplicity of my work will be preserved."

Filming will start in about a year in various locations in Europe, as well as the Middle East, including Jordan, Abu Dhabi and northern Africa.

The Alchemist has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, becoming a best-seller in 18 countries.

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