UK production company The Spice Factory has optioned the rights to The Great Turrell, a script by Michael Mailer which it will co-produce with New York-based Bigel Mailer Films.

The script is based on the 19th Century French novel Le Grand Meaulnes by Henri Fournier and is a coming-of-age story about a charismatic hero who sets out to find his lost love.

"Very few stories contain the magical realism and archetypal significance of Le Grand Meaulnes," said Mailer in a statement. "I've been passionate about turning this novel into a film for many years and look forward to working with Jason [Piette] and Spice Factory in realizing this dream."

"We are so pleased to be partnering with Michael Mailer and Daniel Bigel who have made such amazing films like Harvard Man, Black and White and the upcoming Universal release, Empire," added Piette.

The deal was put together by Andrew Herwitz of New York-based The Film Sales Company; the film is planned to go into production in fall 2003, with the script currently out to directors.

In conjunction with Movision Tax shelter funds in the UK and Arclight Films, Spice Factory is currently in production on Jericho Mansions starring James Caan and Jennifer Tilly and Piazza of the Five Moons staring Donald Sutherland. A Different Loyalty directed by Marek Kalidas and starring Sharon Stone and Rupert Everett is due to start shooting in December. Spice Factory has recently concluded production on Plots With A View starring Christopher Walken, Brenda Blethyn and Alfred Molina, to which Miramax Films has domestic rights, and Bollywood Queen which will be handled in the UK by Helkon SK.