Artemis Fowl, the fictional boy genius who spawned eight bestselling books by Eoin Colfer, is finally getting his own movie. Fans of the books first heard the series would hit the big screen back in 2001, shortly after the first novel was released.

It has been fourteen years since the book rights were first sold to Miramax films, before Disney got ahold of the rights For a while, development on the movie appeared to have effectively been halted, when writer-director Jim Sheridan left the project; however, thereafter Disney got involved, along with Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal as executive producers. The Mouse House now appears to have found a new director for the project too, in Kenneth Branagh.

Branagh just earned over $542 million for Disney with Cinderella, and also helmed tentpole film Thor; his next project is said to be an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery tale Murder on the Orient Express, though The Tracking Board is now reporting that he’s attached to helm Artemis Fowl at some point, too.

The project’s initial script draft was penned by Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) and was to span books one and two of the series. The choice seemed natural as Fowl has been compared to Potter before, at least in terms of audience. However, Variety is reporting that Irish playwright Conor McPherson (The Eclipse) in in talks to pen a fresh Artemis Fowl script draft.

Harvey Weinstein, back in 2013, indicated that the Artemis Fowl movie will be loyal in spirit to Colfer’s source material, via the following statement:

“This is a special project for me because my children absolutely love this book…this story is for everyone and there is no one better than Disney to make a film that will excite people young and old.”

cinderella kenneth branagh lily james richard madden Artemis Fowl Movie To Be Directed By Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh with Cinderella stars Lily James and Richard Madden

Artemis Fowl follows the titular Irish 12-year old boy genius, millionaire, and criminal mastermind, as he attempts to extort gold from the Fairy People. In the realm of YA literature Fowl is much lighter than anything we have seen on screen recently. It’s downright funny, and doesn’t take place in a dystopian post apocalypse. Introducing the franchise to the big screen now makes sense, as it will provide some nice counter-programming to the grim visions offered by franchises like The Hunger Games and Maze Runner. No longer having to compete directly with Harry Potter won’t hurt, either.

Of course, anything can change from book to screen, and handing a beloved franchise over to any major studio always feels risky. (What if Disney “Disney-fies” Artemis Fowl too much?) Colfer’s books are both funny and light, and for younger audiences, but isn’t necessarily Cinderella sweet; Tracking Board aptly described the film pitch as Harry Potter meets Die Hard. We’ll have to wait and see what direction the project ends up taking, but hey – at least there’s finally some fresh news on the movie.

We’ll bring you more information on Artemis Fowl as it becomes available.

Source: The Tracking Board, Variety

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