Variety reports that Weitz will likely direct "The Golden Compass," the first of the three books that comprise the fantasy series. Stoppard, who is currently represented on Broadway with the revival of Jumpers, has penned the screenplay for New Line Cinema.
The stage version of Stoppard's sprawling work, His Dark Materials, began performances at London's Royal National Theatre in Dec. 2003 as a two-part epic. The story spans many universes and calls for flying balloons, witches, demons, magic and even armored bears.
"His Dark Materials" is comprised of the volumes "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass." The Pullman books have been translated into 37 foreign languages.
The fantasies center on a precocious child called Lyra Belacqua, or, at other times, Lyra Silvertongue. She lives around the grounds of Oxford's Jordan College, her ambitious parents busy elsewhere. The story features such mystical elements as Dust, a secret substance; creatures called "gyptians"; a knife that can slice its way into parallel worlds; a couple of rebels in the persons of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter; and a device called an alethiometer, which divines the truth.
New Line also produced the "Lord of the Rings" fantasy trilogy.