The Huntsman: Winter’s War scribe Evan Spiliotopoulos has been tapped to write THE NUTCRACKER for Universal Pictures. Robert Zemeckis will produce through is ImageMovers with Jack Rapke. Jackie Levine and Meredith Frankel will oversee for the studio.
The concept is to take E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and retell it as an origin story about how the nutcracker came to be set in Russia in the 1800s. The original story centers around a young girl and her favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, which comes to life and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls. The story was subsequently adapted by Alexander Dumas, which was in turn adapted into the famous Tchaikovsky ballet.
Zemeckis has been planning a motion-captured version of The Nutcracker story for several years – as far back as 2009. He’s previously helmed two other Christmas themed film, The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol. Now that Spiliotopoulos has been brought in to draft the screenplay, it looks like there’s serious movement on this project. No word yet on whether Zemeckis would direct; he currently has several directing projects in the queue, including a sequel to his Best Picture winning drama Forrest Gump. His WWII drama Allied, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, hits theaters in November.
The project is not the only studio adaptation of The Nutcracker currently in development. Disney is also underway with a version, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which has Ashleigh Powell penning the script, Lasse Hallstrom directing, and Misty Copeland starring. Another version that was in the works at New Line Cinema has been put into turnaround.
Spiliotopoulos’s previous credits include Battle for Terra, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, and Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson. He also worked on Snow White and the Huntsman, Ouija, and Disney’s upcoming live-action musical Beauty and The Beast. He’s in development with the Charlie’s Angels reboot, an adaptation of the classic arcade game Asteroids for Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, and the action-adventure Seven Wonders for Beau Flynn.
Josh Lyons | Managing Editor