‘Artemis Fowl’ Books Being Adapted for Screen by ‘Harry Potter’ Screenwriter

Published 2 years ago by

Artemis Fowl movie adaptation by Disney and Harvey Weinstein Artemis Fowl Books Being Adapted for Screen by Harry Potter Screenwriter

This year, Walt Disney Studios will be offering a unique look at a part of their own history in Saving Mr Banks, a film about the making of Mary Poppins and the extreme disapproval of author P.L. Travers at seeing the stern nanny from her books repackaged as a sweet, singing beauty who frolics with cartoon penguins.

Today, Mary Poppins is considered a classic, but whenever a well-loved book series gets a movie adaptation, especially by an entertainment giant like Disney, the excitement of seeing the stories on the big screen is tempered with a certain amount of anxiety over how faithful to the spirit of the source material the movie will be. With that in mind, fans of Irish author Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, which has so far sold more than 21 million copies worldwide, should brace themselves as Disney and Harvey Weinstein have just announced plans to make a movie based on the first and second books in the series.

Weinstein originally acquired the movie rights to Artemis Fowl through Miramax Films in 2001, with Lawrence Guterman (Son of the Mask) later becoming attached to direct the project. It spent over a decade in development hell, but has now resurfaced as a collaborative effort between Disney and Weinstein, with Robert de Niro and Jane Rosenthal, who originally brought the book to Weinstein’s attention, acting as executive producers.

The script will be written by Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), but it’s not yet known whether this will be based on the screenplay that was originally co-written by Colfer himself and Jim Sheridan (In America).

Artemis Fowl book cover Artemis Fowl Books Being Adapted for Screen by Harry Potter Screenwriter

The best-selling novels upon which the film will be based are about a young antihero called Artemis Fowl II, who uses his wealth and genius to become a notorious criminal mastermind. Artemis is twelve years old at the beginning of the first novel and the series covers him growing up through his teenage years and repeatedly clashing with a modernized version of fairy culture – in particular with Captain Holly Short of LEPrecon, the reconnaissance division of the Lower Elements Police. Artemis first encounters the fairy world when he makes the mistake of kidnapping Holly and demanding a ransom, and the two characters go on to develop an antagonistic relationship throughout periods of both opposition and cooperation.

So far there are eight main books in the Artemis Fowl series, the most recent one being “Artemis Fowl and The Last Guardian,” along with two graphic novel adaptations and two tie-in books. The series blends humor and fantasy into fast-paced thriller plots, and is comparable to the Terry Pratchett novels written for children and young adults. The Artemis Fowl novels acted as a kind of antidote to the Harry Potter mania that was especially prevalent in the early 2000s; they featured a protagonist who was around the same age as Harry, but who used his “powers” for nefarious deeds rather than good ones.

Captain Holly Short in the Artemis Fowl graphic novel Artemis Fowl Books Being Adapted for Screen by Harry Potter Screenwriter

Colfer’s novels definitely deserve a big screen adaptation, but there are certain concerns when it comes to well-loved properties like Artemis Fowl being handed over to Disney. For starters, there is a significant chance that the story will be lifted out of its Irish homeland, where the fairy folklore upon which it is built comes from, and moved across the Atlantic to make it more palatable for US audiences.

Of course, it’s still far too early to get an idea of what the Artemis Fowl movie will be like. Order of the Phoenix was definitely one of the better Harry Potter movies, so Goldenberg’s involvement is definitely a promising sign for this adaptation.

Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, says that Artemis Fowl is a “natural fit” for the studio. Tell us if you think he’s right in the comments.


Walt Disney hasn’t yet announced a release date for Artemis Fowl, but we’ll keep you up to date on any further news about the film.

Source: Walt Disney

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  1. I have been waiting for this movie for so long, SUPER excited that it’s finally happening. On a slightly less optimistic note, I really hope Disney doesn’t mess it up (seeing as they’re blending books 1&2 into the first movie…).

    • Remember when nickelodeon ruined series of unfortunate events? They also tried to fit multiple books into 1 movie.

      • How can they do the first two books. So much happens in both!

    • There is no way, the first two books can work together as one film. They are two completely different stories. The film CANNOT work; it will lose the point, the two books are trying to make separately. Colfer should put his foot down and tell them to reconsider. I want to see it on screen. It’s a great series. But as 8 story-lines in a saga.
      I hope that Artemis and Holly are cast in Ireland with Colfer’s approval. Butler, Juliet, Foaly and Commander Root can be well-known faces. The actors playing Artemis and Holly should be fresh new Irish faces. Arty actor approx. 10-15 and Holly actress approx. 20-30! They should look their age naturally in human years. Foaly and Butler, I would like them to be played by some people who are relatively fresh or if not they should bring a face different to their own. I hope a lot of it is filmed in Ireland. But this movie should feel like a close and proud adaptation of the book.
      Arty better be shown respect because the biographee may just have his trusted bodyguard pay ’em a visit.

  2. I’ve read a couple of these books and they are great fun. I think relocating it to the US would be a huge mistake. Just look at the Harry Potter franchise; the Britishness of that is partly what sells it. Americans like their Irish heritage and would lap this up. I feel if it was Americanised too much it would end up feeling like those Percy Jackson movies.

    • +1

    • They’ll probably change the setting to Boston since that city likes to pretend that it’s Irish.

  3. I’ve never understood the need to relocate everything. Audiences around the world can relate to stories taking place in the United States, can’t the opposite be true?!?

  4. Okay Artemis Fowl is my favorite series of books and if they mess this up I am going to be SO F’ING MAD. I think adapting books one and two at the same time is a terribly big mistake. Both of them are too big to fit into one. It seems almost as if they are going to ignore the plot of the first and instead do the second one as the primary storyline (I can see Disney doing that) because it’s more epic. I usually love books adaptations, HUGE fan of the Percy Jackson movie, and can’t wait for the sequel. But this? *shakes head in misery. I shudder to think what might happen. For one, Artemis Fowl is an action-based series, a Bourne-esque plot with a thick thriller premise. If they stray from that and try to make it like Harry Potter, keeping the fairies right but ruining the thriller aspect of it, I’m going to be angry, and so will many fans. They are young Robert Ludlum novels almost, and as films they would work beautifully, but not by combining books 1 AND 2. If they release the movie under the Touchstone banner, I may have more faith in this, but the way the film was going at Miramax was fine, and now Disney could take it the wrong way. Here’s to hoping they won’t, because Disney has made some great films. John Carter, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and Race to Witch Mountain, all managed to have distinctly different tones whilst remaining Disney films. I hope this does that as well.

    On the plus side… Robert De Niro!!!??? WHAT???!?!?

  5. Also, for the record, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was my favorite Potter book and the film was decent at best. They left out many of what I felt was important details. But to each his own. Harry Potter 3 was the best. they should get Alfonso Cuaron to direct this movie.

  6. Uh…no comment!

    • Didn’t you just do that? 😛

  7. I’ve read a couple of these books and they are great fun

  8. i think it’s very excitng !

  9. I’ve been waiting for this movie to get made, but I kinda thought it wasn’t gonna actually happen. But I don’t really like the idea of making a movie based on two of the books. Why can’t each book get one movie? And I’m concerned about this writer. When he wrote Order of the Phoenix, he was just a last minute replacement writer for the GOOD writer who wrote the other movies. OotP was far from the best (just look at the rottentomato and IMDB scores). That one was the longest book and the shortest movie. That’s one strong sign of a poor adaptation. And was mostly due to the crappy writing. And if they’re combining 2 books into one movie, I can only guess that it would suffer even more at the hands of this writer.

  10. oh… kinda nervous about this. I wasn’t really happy with the last 4 Harry Potter movies’ scriptwriting. Especially when it says ‘but it’s not yet known whether this will be based on the screenplay that was originally co-written by Colfer himself and Jim.’ Well, the good news is Kloves isn’t the Potter writer you were talking about.

  11. It’s surprising they’ve taken this long to getting an adaptation off the ground, but it’ll be tricky though. The books aren’t a full-on fantasy set of stories the way Harry Potter is, since it overlaps much more with the real world, so they’re going to have to find a way of creating all the fairy creatures without them looking too weird in a realistic setting.

    Also, the books are much ‘lighter’ than the Harry Potter books and the dialogue/jokes come faster and looser. It’d be a shame if they lost those in transition as well. The article is kinda right about it being a sort of ‘antidote’ to the HP series so it’d be best if they played that straight and made it a fun blockbuster-type of fantasy/thriller along the lines of something like PotC (I mean, in terms of the tone of writing/style of dialogue).

    As for casting… I can’t exactly think off the top of my head who’d play Artemis but if they plan on making a big franchise out of this then they’ll probably go with a relative unknown.

  12. I’ve read a couple of these books and they are great fun

  13. Order of the Phoenix was one of the better Harry Potter movies? I always thought it was generally accepted as the worst. But that in large might be due to direction rather than the screenplay.

  14. I didnt read the novel but I have friends who did and really enjoyed it, so they’re really looking forward to a movie.

  15. I started reading and I thought I had the wrong article… Mary poppins? Lol

  16. This could really be good. I’m going to jump on some other people’s comments now and say that Mila Kunis would be great for Holly, if she could maybe turn down her Mila Kunis-ness a bit… If that makes any sense, I love her but for Holly we need a more clean-cut character than most of the stuff I’ve seen her do. Also Jason Statham for Butler would be brilliant, he may be a bit shorter than the Butler portrayed in the books but when the other actors get shrunk down for the fairy roles he would probably seem much more imposing. No idea on who should do Artemis though.
    I really hope they don’t go all Hollywood and force in some kind of love story between Holly and Artemis, no matter who they get for the roles, and leave the bits that might allude to something like it for the later films like in the books.
    Also Mulch.
    I love Mulch.
    Don’t mess up Mulch.

  17. Jason statham is to small to play butler, i mean he has to fight a troll. That is if they do the books any justice and dont bastedize them like the percy jackson series.

  18. also yeah dont mess up mulch

  19. I’m apprehensively excited to hear about one of my favourite childhood book series making it to the silver screen. Less so about it being in the hands of the writer of the OotP film (my least favourite of all the HP films). I’m not going to bash Disney, they’ve had their share of flops and triumphs – but I hope they remain fairly faithful to the books. I’ll be particularly upset if the film’s dialogue doesn’t measure up to the wit of the books.
    Another thing that does concern me is setting. It’d be fantastic to see it located in Ireland, but honestly? I’d rather see it relocated, with non-Irish characters, than see it with ‘Irish’ characters. As anyone from Ireland will testify, there’s nothing worse than listening to a put-on Irish accent. (Gerald Butler, you’re a chief offender in my eyes.) Getting together a good cast of Irish actors would prove difficult though. Unlike Harry Potter, which had a large pool of British acting talent to draw on, in Ireland there are significantly less actors to choose from. Not to say that there isn’t plenty of undiscovered talent out there – but I can’t imagine Disney banking on unknowns in this case.
    I hope they do a good job, though I remain sceptical. Having seen Hollywood’s attempts at A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Spiderwick Chronicles, I worry about the attempt to blend two books into one film, especially since the two books in question are quite different in tone (with The Artic Incident being a much more personal, emotional exploit for Artemis). Still – fingers crossed!

  20. I find it both disturbing and disappointing that Disney would pull this away from Ireland! It is such a gorgeous country and isn’t seen as the backdrop as an integral part of the plot for very many movies. It would seem a great slight to Mr. Colfer to change to an “area more palatable to American audiences.” Honestly…I *am* that American audience.

  21. What’s everyone’s opinion on whether the fairies have to be Irish actors?