Once upon a time, a young talented filmmaker named Benh Zeitlin made a little indie movie called Beasts of the Southern Wild that lit the Sundance Film Festival on fire with buzz. The movie scored an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, and Zeitlin earned a Best Director nomination, even landing on Steven Spielberg’s shortlist for the Jurassic World directing gig. That was 2012. Then Zeitlin just… disappeared. He didn’t make another indie follow-up, he didn’t sign onto a Marvel movie, he didn’t even direct any television. It was fascinating and disappointing all at once, which makes today’s news all the more exciting: Zeitlin’s long-awaited follow-up film is hitting theaters in 2020.
Fox Searchlight announced today that it will release Wendy on February 28, 2020, almost eight years since Beasts of the Southern Wild premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Zeitlin wrote the screenplay for the film alongside his sister Eliza Zeitlin and directed the movie, which reimagines the iconic story of Peter Pan. Here’s the official synopsis:
The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in this ragtag epic from Benh Zietlin, director of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of young from the deadly peril of growing up.
So yeah, this is a Peter Pan story from the POV of Wendy. And I am 100% onboard. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a tremendous feat of filmmaking—a fantastical epic on a scale that can only be described as epically intimate. Zeitlin was able to conjure entire worlds with simple sound design and precise shot composition, and I can’t wait to see how he captures the world of Peter Pan here. The cast is led by Devin France as Wendy and also includes Yashua Mack, Gage Naquin, Gavin Naquin, Romyri Ross, Ahmad Cage and Krzysztof Meyn.
Wendy has actually been rumored for years, with word arriving back in 2015 that Wendy would be his next project and cameras finally rolling in 2017. Now, at last, the film is being released. Why it wasn’t part of Fox Searchlight’s 2019 awards season slate is unclear, but the studio has had success in the early part of the year as well—especially with films from Wes Anderson.
So get ready folks. New Benh Zeitlin is finally imminent.