According to Variety, Bruce Robinson has been set to adapt and direct "The Rum Diary," the first novel by the late Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny Depp, who played Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, will again play the gonzo journalist.

Exec producer Depp picked Robinson, who wrote and directed cult film Withnail & I, the thriller Jennifer 8 and The Killing Fields.

The pic will be financed by FilmEngine, which bankrolled and produced The Butterfly Effect. Producers will be A.J. Dix, Anthony Rhulen, William Shively, Robert S. Kravis and Greg Shapiro.

The Rum Diary is Thompson's chronicle of journalism, drinking and carousing in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s. The adaptation began at Shooting Gallery, but Thompson drafted a memorable memo lambasting the script and those involved in developing it.

FilmEngine then picked up rights and tried to make it with Depp, Nick Nolte and Benicio Del Toro with a script by Backbeat scribe Michael Thomas. They've gone back to the drawing board with Robinson.

Depp had tried to enlist Robinson on several projects in the past, and this was the first time they matched up.

"Johnny had tried to hire Bruce four times and this was the first thing he accepted," Rhulen said. "Johnny is working hands on with Bruce to develop his character, and we'll worry about the rest of the cast later. So many talented actors are fans of Hunter that that part should be relatively easy."

FilmEngine hopes to get the film into production sometime after Depp wraps back-to-back sequels of Pirates of the Caribbean. Depp will next be seen starring in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.