book coverAfter years of rumors and false starts, Edward Abbey’s classic novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, credited with inspiring the Earth First! movement, may finally make it to a movie theater near you.

The 1975 book follows a foursome of activists angry about the overdevelopment of Utah’s canyonlands and not afraid to show it — by derailing trains, attacking bulldozers, and the like.

Production on the film is set to begin in May and wrap by the end of the year, in time for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. But curiously, it will not be shot in Utah; the “indie-film budget” forced filmmakers to look to New Mexico, where tax incentives are more favorable.

Leading the project is director Catherine Hardwicke, whose most recent work, The Nativity Story, was crucified at the box office.

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Says Hardwicke, “After Inconvenient Truth, we hit a tipping point where almost everybody in America cares about the environment. We feel like [Monkey Wrench] is going to be a rallying cry to shake people up to care about the land, the world, and do something about this planet.”