Kenneth Branagh scored a big hit earlier this year with Cinderella, and while back in June we reported that he had signed on to adapt Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, it now looks like he’s turning his attention to YA-fare.
According to Variety and The Tracking Board, Branagh has signed on to direct an adaptation of the YA novel Artemis Fowl with playwright Conor McPherson writing the script. Per the official description [via Amazon]:
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius-and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous.
Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them but then they stop playing by the rules.
There are eight books in the Artemis Fowl series, so this could be a huge franchise for Disney if Branagh pulls it off. It could also carve out its own niche in the YA landscape since Artemis is more of an anti-hero rather than a “golly, gee-whiz” type young protagonist, which could offer some nice variety. And from a fantasy perspective, it would be interesting to see how Branagh approaches the material. Does he go more lush-medieval like he did with Asgard in Thor and the general design of Cinderella, or does he try something different?
Producer Harvey Weinstein said back in 2013 about the project [via CS], “This is a special project for me because my children absolutely love this book. This story is for everyone and there is no one better than Disney to make a film that will excite people young and old.”
Variety reports that Branagh is still attached to Murder on the Orient Express, so it’s possible that film could go before cameras while McPherson hammers out the script for Artemis Fowl.