Lionsgate Sets Charlie Kaufman to Adapt Young Adult Series CHAOS WALKING

     April 23, 2012

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Lionsgate is now in control of two mega teen franchises, and they’re looking to extend their streak even further.  The Hunger Games’ massive box office take (it’s not done yet) guarantees success for its two upcoming follow-ups, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and given that Lionsgate recently bought Summit they’ll also reap the benefits of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 this fall.  As such, it’s no surprise that the studio has its eye on adapting yet another young adult series, Patrick Ness’ futuristic trilogy Chaos Walking.

What’s strange/awesome about the studio’s plans for Chaos Walking is that instead of hiring a screenwriter to do a straightforward adaptation, they’ve set Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich scribe Charlie Kaufman to write the screenplay.  Hit the jump for more.

charlie-kaufman-chaos-walkingThe story of the Chaos Walking series takes place in a dystopian future on a distant, Earth-like planet on which an infection called the Noise suddenly makes all thoughts audible.  Everything that every being thinks (even dogs) is heard by everyone else, rendering privacy a thing of the past.  When the protagonist, a boy named Todd, begins to feel like his town is hiding something from him, he runs away with his loyal dog in tow.  On the lam, Todd comes across a girl who was inexplicably not killed by the Noise like all the other females on New World.  Like The Hunger Games, themes of totalitarianism persist throughout the series.  Unlike The Hunger Games, Chaos Walking includes aliens.

The premise is interesting enough, but one could see a very straight-forward, very teen-skewing adaptation of this going through the Hollywood pipeline and doing solid if unimpressive business.  The fact that Lionsgate has hired Kaufman to pen the adaptation is a bit shocking, but nevertheless incredibly exciting.  Remember, this is the guy who was hired to adapt the novel The Orchid Thief but instead turned in a screenplay that included Kafuman himself and a fictional twin brother as characters trying to adapt The Orchid Thief.  That movie was Adaptation. and it’s a staggering work of genius; think of what Kaufman can do with a Young Adult series.

the-knife-of-never-letting-go-book-coverDeadline reports that Kaufman will adapt the first book in the series, The Knife of Never Letting Go.  It’s probably too much to ask to see Kaufman also direct the film, but given their fruitful collaborations in the past I have to suggest Spike Jonze as a possibility.  Kaufman is currently busy readying his next film as a director, the Hollywood satire Frank or Francis.  That movie stars Jack Black as a spiteful blogger who feuds with a film director played by Steve Carell, though as you can probably guess, the plot isn’t all that simple.  Oh, and did I also mention that Frank or Francis is also a musical?  How lucky we are to have someone like Charlie Kaufman making movies.  Read a synopsis for The Knife of Never Letting Go below.

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is. [Amazon]

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