The company acquired the rights to the late Jonathan Larson's show — a modern East Village take on La Bohéme — from Miramax Films. Chris Columbus will write and direct the picture, which is expected to retain the score and story created by lyricist-librettist-composer Larson.
Also producing are Tribeca Films, Columbus (known for the first two "Harry Potter" pictures, plus "Mrs. Doubtfire") and his 1492 Films, the trade reported.
Miramax may co-finance and distribute the film for foreign audiences.
The movie version of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning show, still running at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre, has been talked about for years. According to Variety, Miramax and Tribeca acquired feature rights in 1996, with an agreement to not release the picture until after fall 2001, to protect the life of the stage version. The Academy Award-winning film of "Chicago" has only boosted interest in the Broadway and touring productions of that hit.
Spike Lee was once mentioned as a possible director for "Rent," the movie. In the MTV era, Rent would seem to be an obvious choice for a movie musical: A rock-driven, character-rich tale about artists and lovers living in the age of AIDS, wondering where they fit "at the end of the millennium."