'Eleanor & Park': DreamWorks picks up film rights to Rainbow Rowell novel -- EXCLUSIVE

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Image Credit: Augusten Burroughs

Big Red is headed to the big screen.

The girl with the flaming curls (and not-so-flattering nickname) from Eleanor & Park and her soft-spoken, comic-book-loving crush will soon be getting the cinematic treatment, with DreamWorks Studios picking up film rights to Rainbow Rowell’s bestselling novel.

“Every girl who has read it says, ‘That was me in high school, or that was me in 7th grade,’” Holly Bario, DreamWorks president of production, tells EW. “It reminded all of us of our own sort of awkwardness, or family dysfunction.”

The studio was drawn to the teenage love story for the same reason as its legions of fans. “It’s not the typical story where the ugly duckling is in love with the hot guy,” Bario says. “They’re both trying to find their way. They’re both outcasts.”

Set in 1986, and following one school year in Omaha, the novel follows the tentative romance of two 16-year-olds: Eleanor, a somewhat heavy girl overwhelmed by insecurities and trying to survive an abusive household, and Park, the quiet, half-Korean kid who also doesn’t feel like he fits in, but finds refuge in music and comic books.

After its publication in February 2013, the book spent 12 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and has inspired a passionate, devoted following.

“The book is uniquely structured in that one chapter is told by Eleanor and one chapter is told from Park’s perspective, and they alternate,” Bario points out. “So we’re trying to figure out how to do that in a movie. There are all storts of groovy stylistic things you could do with voice over, or words on the screen, but we want something that’s real Rainbow.”

With that in mind, Rowell – who is repped by UTA — has also been hired to write the screenplay. “She’s in the middle of writing another book, so we’re patiently waiting for her,” Bario said.

Already on board the project are producer Carla Hacken, who as a studio executive oversaw Walk the Line and The Devil Wears Prada, and executive producer Matt Kennedy (the upcoming Predestination.)

Once the script is in, a director and cast will be attached. DreamWorks hopes to start shooting in 2015.

But fans don’t need to wait for that … Who would YOU cast in the two main roles? Better to go with unknowns, or find a pair of young actors already on the rise?

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