We've Got Hollywood Covered

Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams Team for Female Syrian Refugee Drama (Exclusive)

Pair will adapt harrowing true story ”A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea“

Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams are teaming up to produce a film based on the harrowing real-life story of a Syrian refugee, TheWrap has learned.

Paramount Pictures and Spielberg’s Amblin Partners have jointly secured the rights to Melissa Fleming’s just-published nonfiction book “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival,” an individual familiar with the project told TheWrap.

Fleming, the chief spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, researched the wrenching survival story of Doaa Al Zamel — a Syrian fleeing Egypt for a new life in Sweden, who was shipwrecked with two small children and survived for days with them in her arms on an inflatable water ring.

The adaptation will be co-financed and distributed by both, a second insider said. It’s presently unclear what territories each will take, but Amblin will release the film under its DreamWorks banner. No writer or director is currently attached to the project. The rights were acquired from Fleming publisher Flatiron Books.

Representatives for Paramount, Spielberg and Abrams did not immediately return requests for comment.

Spielberg previously served as a producer on Abrams’ “Super 8,” and fittingly so — the 2011 Elle Fanning sci-fi pic was a love letter from Abrams to Spielberg’s earlier Amblin films. That project was also distributed by Paramount.

Abrams has quite a bit going on at the studio, which is currently seeking a replacement for former Chairman and CEO Brad Grey.

His latest production “God Particle,” which TheWrap exclusively reported is part of a shared universe in his “Cloverfield” franchise, hits theaters in October. He’s also a producer on the forthcoming six installment of Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible” series.

Spielberg is currently prepping his latest directorial effort, a long-awaited adaptation of YA phenomenon “Ready Player One.” On Monday, the prolific filmmaker announced he will direct Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in a drama about the Washington Post’s role in exposing the 1971 Pentagon Papers.

Read a full description of “A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea,” which was published in January:

Adrift in a frigid sea, no land in sight―just debris from the ship’s wreckage and floating corpses all around―nineteen-year-old Doaa Al Zamel floats with a small inflatable water ring around her waist and clutches two children, barely toddlers, to her body. The children had been thrust into Doaa’s arms by their drowning relatives, all refugees who boarded a dangerously overcrowded ship bound for Sweden and a new life. For days, Doaa floats, prays, and sings to the babies in her arms. She must stay alive for these children. She must not lose hope.

Please fill out this field.