The first memoir published by the largely nonfiction house Square One Publishers has turned into the company’s first film deal. Yesterday, Square One signed with Focus Features and award-winning director Ang Lee for the two to produce and release a feature film based on Taking Woodstock, by Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte. “I always thought the narrative in this book would make for a good movie,” said Square One publisher Rudy Shur, “but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be directed by Ang Lee.” Lee’s credits include Brokeback Mountain and last year’s Lust, Caution.The screenplay will be written by Focus CEO James Schamus.
The deal got its start when Tiber met Lee last fall in the green room of the San Francisco CBS affiliate where the two were waiting to promote their projects and Tiber began telling Lee about his book. In his memoir, Tiber talks about his role in keeping the Woodstock festival alive by offering the organizers a new venue near his parent’s motel in upstate New York after the original site fell through.
Square One released Woodstock last summer in hardcover and it has sold about 3,000 copies, Shur said. Rather than sell paperback rights, Shur plans to publish a trade paperback edition himself close the screen date of August 2009, the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. The trade edition will feature a still from the movie for the cover. “This could be our biggest bestseller,” Shur said.