Chocolat writer Joanne Harris is adapting her upcoming novel for the big screen through David Barron and Paul Weiland's UK production outfit Contagious Films.

Contagious has bought the film rights to the book at first draft manuscript form ahead of its planned publication in 2003. Harris is writing the first draft of the screenplay, titled Coastliners, as part of the debut development slate at Contagious.

Her 1999 novel Chocolat is being shot by Lasse Hallstrom for Miramax Films, starring Juliette Binoche.

"I was a huge fan of Chocolat but we hadn't set up the company at that point," said Barron, whose credits include Possession, It Was An Accident and Loves Labours Lost. "However, we pursued Joanne and established a relationship."

Contagious is also co-producing The Babysnatchers with BBC Films and Toddler Films. The family film is based on an original idea by Colin Bateman.

Other projects in the works include Five Psychopaths Go To Vancouver, a black comedy written by playwright Peter Straughan, and The Funnies, based on J Robert Lennon's novel.

Barron is looking to attach a director to Frankie's Comeback, which is written by Bernard Wright and won the Pathe Orange screenwriting prize this year. He is also developing studio-level fantasy thriller Saving Marilyn and Welsh cowboy High Noon In Tonypandy.