‘News of the World’ Heads to Universal as First Casualty from Disney-Fox Merger

     April 9, 2019


As of February of this year, Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass were set to reunite in the Fox 2000 picture, News of the World. Things change quickly in this world of ours. Thanks to Disney’s mega-buyout of all things Fox, this picture didn’t make the transition over to the Mouse House. Instead, the actor/director team that netted six Oscar nominations when they worked together on Captain Phillips will now take their talents to Universal Pictures.

As Deadline reports, the first Fox-focused casualty of the merger is News of the World, an adaptation of novelist Paulette Jiles‘ 2016 book by the same name; Oscar-nominated screenwriter Luke Davies (Lion) penned the big-screen treatment. The fact that Disney had no plans to find a spot in the new hierarchy for Fox 2000–a label that presented such films as Love, Simon, Hidden Figures and The Fault in Our Stars–came as a bit of a blow for filmmakers who had projects set up there, but for Greengrass and Hanks, at least the move to Universal is a shift to a familiar studio.

news-of-the-world-book-coverHere’s the plot synopsis of Jiles’ National Book Award Finalist, News of the World (via Amazon):

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.


In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.


Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.


Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

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