A feature film adaptation of author Laura Hillenbrand’s non-fiction bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption has been a coveted property essentially since the book hit shelves, and now it looks like the pic may finally be moving forward. Universal Pictures acquired the book rights back in January of 2011 for Francis Lawrence to direct and Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) set to write the script. The studio subsequently brought on Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You) to take over scripting duties the following March, but movement has been quiet ever since.
The book tells the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943. Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer. The project has now gained some strong momentum, as Angelina Jolie is being targeted to take the helm. Hit the jump for more.
The long-in-development feature film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s lauded children’s book The Giver is taking a big step forward. Variety reports that director Philip Noyce (Salt, Patriot Games) is now in early talks to helm the adaptation for The Weinstein Company, Walden Media, and star Jeff Bridges. The book concerns a utopian society where all memories of the past reside with a sage figure known as “The Giver”. When a 12-year-old boy is selected to be the new Giver, he learns of the hypocrisies and hidden truths of his world. Bridges nabbed the rights to the book 20 years ago with the intention of developing it as a starring vehicle for his father, Lloyd, but now he intends to produce and star. Hit the jump for more.
Walden Media has acquired the feature rights to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and they’re hoping Jennifer Lopez will help them answer the question. While I think Lopez could actually be a good choice to portray the anti-heroine, at this moment she’s only in talks to produce through her Nuyorican Productions. The project has been described as National Treasure meets The Thomas Crown Affair.
Originally starting as an educational computer game before turning into a cartoon series (and game show), Carmen Sandiego follows the titular anti-heroine as she travels the world stealing irreplaceable artifacts. Her former partner at the ACME Detective Agency must try to stay one step ahead of her and bring her in. Hit the jump for more.
Walden Media has acquired the film rights to the Flat Stanley book series created by late author Jeff Brown in 1964. For those unaware, Flat Stanley centers on the adventures of Stanley Lambchop, a boy who becomes a one-dimensional character after being flattened by a bulletin board that falls from his ceiling. Although Brown’s books have sold more than one million copies worldwide, Flat Stanley has become somewhat of a cult sensation of late thanks to The Flat Stanley Project. Created in 1995 by third-grade teacher Dale Hubert, the project encourages young students to take pictures of themselves with Flat Stanley on their various trips, vacations, etc., as a means of getting them to share their Stanley exploits with their peers across the world.
As for Stanley’s film adaptation, Deadline reports that John Carls will produce the film via his Wild Things Production label. Previously, Carls/Wild Things have produced features such as Where the Wild Things Are and Rango. Reportedly, the plan is for the film to be shot live-action using visual effects as a means of turning Stanley into a one-dimensional character who inhabits a three-dimensional world. Walden Media is currently meeting with filmmakers regarding the pic, although no names are being divulged at this time.
The Chronicles of Narnia haven’t quite provided the Harry Potter-sized hits studios were hoping for, but the movies have consistently done enough business to sustain a conversation about the continuation of the series. The third film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, earned a moderately disappointing $104 million at the domestic box office, but rang up an additional $300 million internationally. So 20th Century Fox and Walden Media are discussing the possibility of another movie — however, their book choice may surprise you. Co-founder and president of Walden Michael Flaherty spoke about next adapting The Magician’s Nephew, the sixth book in C.S. Lewis’ fantasy series:
“We are starting to talk to Fox and talk to the C.S. Lewis estate now about The Magician’s Nephew being our next film. If we can all agree to move forward, then what we would do is find someone to write the script. So, it could still be a couple of years.”
Read more of what he had to say, plus a synopsis of the book, after the break.
Walden Media (the folks behind the Chronicles of Narnia movies) are aiming to reboot the Benji franchise. For those who have never heard of Benji, the lovable mixed-breed dog first appeared on screens in 1974. The character then starred five more films including For the Love of Benji and Benji the Hunted. Now Variety reports that Brandon Camp., son of original Benji creator Joe Camp Jr., is planning to write, direct, and produce a new movie that will re-launch the franchise for a new generation. Camp most recently co-wrote and directed the Jennifer Anniston flick Love Happens.
It a feel-good note, Camp says that they’ll be looking for a shelter dog to play the new Benji. The original Benji, “Higgins”, was a pound pup that got the gig. Says Camp, “My fantasy is to find a stray. The original Benji, the one most of us grew up with, is the look that I’ll be going for.”
20th Century Fox and Walden Media have teamed to buy the rights to the single panel comic The Family Circus with the intent to make a live-action feature film. Fox has hired Bob Hilgenberg and Rob Muir — two of the six writers behind Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue (!) — to pen the adaptation. According to Deadline, the rights were a hot item amongst the studios, each dreaming of a “multiple quadrant family franchise.”
I am not the target audience for the strip, which is fine. But creator Bil Keane’s work is impressive by sheer force of longevity. First publised in 1960, The Family Circus enters its sixth decade as the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world. A conservative estimate tallies over 15,000 cute things that kids have said. Hit the jump for a bit more info on the comic, plus a few choice selections from the funny pages.
Though writer/actress Nia Vardalos has yet to come anywhere near the runaway success of her 2002 effort My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I think its $369 million worldwide gross (on a $5 million indie budget, no less) justified her services for at least a decade. As this is only year eight, count Walden Media among the studios who believe there is still a bit of Greek magic left in her pen.
Walden is fast-tracking Happy Mother’s Day, an ensemble comedy that revolves around four suburban moms who take a road trip to commemorate the titular holiday. Vardalos will, of course, star as one of the four leads in addition to her scripting duties. The studio is currently looking to fill out the cast and secure a director, hoping to get filming underway by the end of the year. More after the jump:
Brad Peyton is close to making a deal to direct New Line and Walden Media’s Journey to the Center of the Earth 2, and Brendan Fraser will reportedly not be starring in the sequel. Deadline reports the studio is moving ahead with the film, with Josh Hutcherson as the star. Hutcherson played the nephew of Fraser’s character in the original. The original film made $242 million worldwide, and without Fraser, New Line would have to back the film with a much lesser-known actor. Fraser left the film due to scheduling conflicts that made original director Eric Brevig unavailable and forced New Line to replace him with Brad Peyton, the director of Warner Bros.’ upcoming Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Brevig’s next film will be Yogi Bear. New Line is planning on a Fall 2011 release for the Journey to the Center of the Earth sequel.
Of course with the project still being put together and Fraser’s recent movie Furry Vengeance not exactly lighting up the box office, there is still a chance he could return for the sequel. More as we hear it.