‘Orphanage’ Director Juan Antonio Bayona to Adapt ‘A Monster Calls’

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A Monster Calls Patrick Ness illustration Orphanage Director Juan Antonio Bayona to Adapt A Monster Calls

Patrick Ness’ children’s fantasy novel A Monster Calls is a sad story with an even sadder story behind it. The protagonist is a 13 year-old boy called Conor whose mother is suffering from terminal cancer. After experiencing the same nightmare over and over for months, Conor wakes up one night to find a monster made out of leaves and branches at his bedroom window, who promises to help him by telling him three stories.

The idea was conceived by writer Siobhan Dowd while she was suffering from breast cancer, though she passed away before she was able to write it down. Patrick Ness turned the idea into a novel, then later adapted the novel for the screen. The script has since made it onto the Hollywood Black List, and now plans are in place to get A Monster Calls into production.

Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, who is best known for his chilling ghost drama The Orphanage, has now signed on to direct A Monster Calls. River Road Entertainment, Participant Media, Lionsgate International, and Focus Features are teaming up to finance and distribute the film, which is set for a fall 2016 release.

orphanage remake Orphanage Director Juan Antonio Bayona to Adapt A Monster Calls

Bayona’s most recent film was The Impossible, a drama about a tourist family who are caught up in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami while visiting Thailand and struggle to survive and reunite in the aftermath. The film won five Goya awards and lead actor Naomi Watts received an Oscar nomination for her role.

Now that Bayona is committed to A Monster Calls, there’s a strong likelihood that his upcoming sequel to World War Z won’t arrive in theaters until around 2017. Examiner reports that A Monster Calls is set to begin filming in September, and since the World War Z sequel doesn’t even have a screenwriter yet, let alone a script, it will probably have to wait until production is complete on A Monster Calls.

In concept A Monster Calls sounds like it could have some strong similarities to Pan’s Labyrinth and Where the Wild Things Are, with a young protagonist seeking to escape from his troubles through fantasy and stories. It will be interesting to see what a director like Bayona does with the material.

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A Monster Calls is expected to release in fall 2016.

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8 Comments

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  1. skip the WWZ garbage that film was terrible. use your talents for A Monster Calls!

  2. This looks really promising!

  3. That top image reminds me of The BFG (both the original book and the Cosgrove-Hall animated movie from the 80s).

    Sounds interesting but I can’t help feeling that they should use the same animation technique used during the Three Brothers segment in Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2.

    • The illustrations for A Monster Calls are by Jim Kay, who I went to uni with. A brilliant artist and one of life’s truly decent people. They took him a good two or three years, I believe – he put an insane amount of work into them, and the results are the most beautiful and evocative things I’ve seen him do. They’re fully integrated into the book’s layout, not just placed on the odd opposing page, and would be worth buying it for even if Patrick Ness’s writing wasn’t as good as it is. Sparse and haunting, streets ahead of anything normally aimed at children. Totally recommend it.

      • Yeah, I’m starting to get back into artwork and designing things again lately after I found old band logos I drew in my teens and managed to sell a couple of oil paintings last summer that I sort of threw together and being a fan of this kind of artwork, I’ll definitely buy the book.

        Not sure when, recently made big book purchases already (£75 for The Hole Of Tank Girl plus about a tenner for yet another HP Lovecraft book for my collection, plus Karl Pilkington’s The Moaning Of Life diary to accompany the series).

        • Finding old stuff brings it all back, doesn’t it? The enthusiasm you had at the time and the sheer enjoyment you had doing it, regardless of whether anyone was paying you for it or not. I think that’s where the rot set in for me: I could never get anything other than sporadic commissions – never enough to pay the bills – and after long enough the self-confidence starts to take a knock. Good to hear you sold a couple of paintings. Oils can be a bugger to work with, but very satisfying. Is that something you’d carry on with?

          £75 is harsh, but worth it to have a decent compilation of all that. I was considering the Man-Thing Omnibus for about the same price – thought I’d mull it over for a while first…

          • Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s the same with my songwriting, I found an old cassette tape with various ideas I recorded 13 yeas ago and it really helped reinvigorate my writing for this album I’m demoing.

            I’d definitely continue the oil painting though. Hoping that I can gain enough confidence over time to paint my own album covers, a la one of my favourite guitarists/artists Wes Borland (his own site has a gallery of his own oil paintings, including album and single covers he painted for his own bands, Black Light Burns, Big Dumb Face and Limp Bizkit).

            • Keep going, for sure. Even Jim went through a period in the early 00s where it looked as though he’d virtually jacked it in. I think creatively if it’s a part of you you’ll never fully put it aside, and having a good bunch of supportive people around you makes a lot of difference as well.

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