THE RITE Director Mikael Håfström to Helm Adventure Adaptation TUNNELS for Relativity Media

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Relativity Media has found a new director for its adaptation of the fantasy adventure book series Tunnels, by authors Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams (no, not that Brian Williams).  Though Splice director Vincenzo Natali was originally tapped to helm the film, Relativity announced today that Mikael Håfström (1408, The Rite) is now set to direct.  The story centers on two teenage boys who discover a hidden, underground world beneath London where a secret civilization has been desperately waiting for a hero to save them all.  They soon discover that a great evil is on the cusp of being unleashed upon the world above, and it’s up to them to put a stop to it.

Andrew Lobel wrote the script, based on a previous adaptation by Joel Bergvall and Simon SandquistMark Canton (300, Immortals) is producing alongside Neal Canton and Danny Davis.  The film is being set up as the first in a potential franchise that sounds like a swell adventure series aimed at a younger demographic.  Håfström most recently directed the Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller The Tomb.  Hit the jump to read the press release.

tunnels-book-coverHere’s the press release:

Relativity Signs Mikael Håfström To Direct Epic Adventure Film Tunnels 

Andrew Lobel Pens Script Based Upon Best-Selling Fantasy Book Series 

(Beverly Hills, Calif.) February 28, 2013 – Relativity Media announced today they have signed Mikael Håfström (The Tomb, 1408) to direct a film based on the New York Times’ best-selling internationally-acclaimed fantasy adventure book seriesTunnels.  The script by Andrew Lobel is based on the adapted screenplay originally written by Joel Bergvall & Simon Sandquist.  Tunnels is the film adaptation of the first installment of the novel series from Scholastic/Chicken House publishing, by authors Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, which has sold over one million copies and has been published in nearly forty countries worldwide.

The authors have already completed five sequels with the sixth and final book in the series, Terminal, to be published in the U.S. this Fall. The property was unearthed by Barry Cunningham, the man credited with discovering Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and whose boutique Chicken House imprint is part of Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series.

Tunnels is a thrilling, epic fantasy adventure for all ages. Beneath the streets of London, two teenage boys discover an incredible, hidden underground world where a secret civilization has been desperately waiting for a hero to save them all.  The deeper they go, the closer they get to unearthing an evil that could destroy the world above and put an end to the lives they once lived.

Tunnels is being produced by Mark Canton (300, Immortals), Neil Canton (Back to the Future) and Danny Davids alongside Relativity’s CEO Ryan Kavanaugh (The Fighter). Relativity’s President Tucker Tooley (The Fighter) will executive produce with Kelly Dennis (1408). Atmosphere’s David Hopwood will serve as co-producer.

Cunningham said, “Only a few times in my life have I felt that rush of imagination in a story that I know is going to sweep up an audience in its grip, Tunnels made me believe in adventure, bravery and a new world.”

Tooley said, “Andrew has written an incredible script and Mikael brings a creative and powerful vision to this project. The Tunnels novels have proven to be one of the most immensely exciting adventure series in recent years and we can’t wait to translate that excitement to the big screen.”

“The originality of the book and its sequels, which uniquely combine the adventure of Indiana Jones with the magic of Narnia, along with its franchise potential, is what attracted Relativity, Neil, Danny and myself to Tunnels and I’m delighted to be producing it with them,” Mark Canton added. “Having just finished TheTomb with Mikael Hafstrom, I know first hand that he’s the perfect person to direct this epic fantasy, and Andrew Lobel’s script has captured every bit of the incredible world that Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams have created.”

“Barry Cunningham clearly has a keen eye for spotting authors whose epic stories appeal to readers of all ages around the globe,” said Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade. “Scholastic is proud to be the American publisher of the bestselling Tunnels series, and we look forward to seeing this underground and imaginative world expand through film.”

Relativity’s Jason Barhydt will oversee the project for the studio.

Håfström is represented by WME. Lobel is represented by WME and Madhouse Entertainment.

Relativity’s latest film adaptation was Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling Safe Haven which opened on Valentine’s Day February 14th and grossed nearly $34 million in its first five days of release.

Relativity also recently acquired U.S. rights to distribute Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s daring, hotly- pursued directorial debut Don Jon’s Addiction at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Up next, Relativity will release the comedy 21 and Over (in theatres March 1, 2013) and the corporate espionage thriller Paranoia (in theatres October 4, 2013). Relativity is currently in post-production on Scott Cooper’s gritty dramatic thriller currently-titled Out of the Furnace and Luc Besson’s comedic action film currently-titled Malavita (October 18, 2013) with EuropaCorp.  Relativity is currently in production on Jimmy Hayward’s upcoming animated, hilarious buddy comedy Turkeys (November 1, 2013) and the currently-titled thriller Three Days to Kill with EuropaCorp.




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