〉The fantasy adaptation has been in development since 2001
Get ready Fowl fans, as it looks as though Walt Disney Pictures and The Weinstein Company are finally moving forward on the seriously long-awaited ARTEMIS FOWL adaptation, securing the ever-surprising Kenneth Branagh to direct. Branagh’s an inspired choice, seeing as he just helmed Disney’s hugely successful Cinderella, which raked in a pretty $542 million worldwide.
Sources caution that the studio is now on the look-out for a new writer to tackle the fantasy pic, which has long been pitched as Harry Potter meets Die Hard. Julie Oh is overseeing for the Weinstein Co., while Tendo Nagenda and Jessica Virtue are shepherding for the House of Mouse. Branagh and Harvey Weinstein are producing.
The bestselling novel, written by Eoin Colfer in 2001, launched a massively lucrative and successful children’s series that spanned another seven entries and a graphic novel adaptation. The fantasy series follows the brilliant and cunning 12-year-old eponymous criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II, whose cunning plot to extort gold from the secret Fairy People puts him directly in the cross-hairs of some of the most dangerous creatures on earth. Over the series, Fowl becomes a sort of anti-hero rather than a full-fledged villain, often having to work together with the fairies to stop a slew of treacherous megalomaniacs.
The film adaptation has experienced a disastrously troubled birth, with development stretching all the way back to the early 2000s. The story is near and dear to Harvey Weinstein’s heart, as the mega producer nabbed the film rights to the series in 2001 through his then-shingle Miramax Films, locking down Lawrence Guterman to direct.
Fast forward four years later and Miramax was bought by Disney, who then acquired the rights. Lets keep moving to 2011 where, after a decade sitting pretty in development hell, Jim Sheridan came aboard to write and direct.
Still with me? In 2013, Sheridan left the project and Disney announced that they were producing with the Weinstein Co., and that Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, who initally brought the book to Weinstein’s attention, were executive producing. Judy Hofflund will now executive produce, with the latest draft penned by Adam Kline, who worked on Peter Pan and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix scribe Michael Goldenberg’s script.
Fourteen years, ten writers, and two directors later, and the project is finally kicking into high gear. And its about time, on paper Fowl looks to be an instant hit and has found the perfect landscape to fill the void left in Harry Potter’s absence. In a crowded sea of dystopian YA teen adaptations, Artemis Fowl should inject a much-needed dose of fun fantasy fare, without the brooding pubescent rebellions and bleak gray color palettes that have dominated in a post Hunger Games climate.
Branagh’s the man for the job, proving his tenacity for delivering superior action and fantasy with hits like Cinderella and Thor. Following his acclaimed update of the glass slipper-wearing princess, Branagh’s easily become one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood and an obvious choice for Disney to secure for Fowl.
The word is that even Marvel was looking to bring him back into the fold for Thor 3, though he’ll likely opt out considering he’s amidst talks to helm the Murder on the Orient Express remake at Fox.
Before any of this comes to pass, however, the Jack Ryan reboot director is developing the drama Italian Shoes, with Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench to star.
Clark Allen | Associate Editor