Back in 1990, Nicolas Roeg directed an adaptation of Roald Dahl‘s The Witches, a children’s dark fantasy tale about an orphaned boy who discovers that witches do indeed exist in his world. The Jim Henson Company production earned a BAFTA nomination for Christine Beveridge‘s horrifyingly fantastic make-up work which transformed Anjelica Huston into the Grand High Witch. Roeg’s version changed quite a bit from Dahl’s 1983 tome, but the story will get another shot at the big screen now that Robert Zemeckis is about to sign on as writer and director for Warner Bros.
Variety reports that Zemeckis and the studio are in final negotiations for the Oscar-winner to direct the tale, with a deal expected to close soon. Zemeckis will write the script while also producing alongside Jack Rapke as part of their ImageMovers banner; Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro will also produce. GDT was once on board as the director but scheduling conflicts got in the way. On tap for Zemeckis is the biographical drama Welcome to Marwen (inspired by the documentary Marwencol) set to arrive in theaters this Thanksgiving; expect a trailer sometime soon. [Update: As promised, here’s the trailer!]
As for The Witches, Dahl’s 1983 novel will reportedly be more closely adapted with Warner Bros.’ new adaptation. Roeg’s version changed the protagonist from a young British boy to an American one, though it remains to be seen if the strong Norwegian influence in the original tale will remain intact. The movie would come as a bit of a shift from Zemeckis’ more recent adult dramas, moving back towards family-friendly flicks like Back to the Future. There’s no word on whether this would be a live-action adaptation or an animated/motion-capture feature, but with Zemeckis’ trailblazing efforts on films like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol, a CG flick is certainly in the realm of possibility. And having both Cuarón and del Toro in the picture is a big, big win for the dark fantasy side of things.
Are you a fan of Zemeckis and Dahl’s The Witches? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!