Film studio New Regency is in talks to acquire the rights to Grasshopper Jungle, a YA adaptation to which writer/director Edgar Wright is attached. Grasshopper Jungle adapted from Andrew A. Smith’s novel of the same name released in February 2014, tells of a teenage boy named Austin struggling with sexual confusion, who accidentally unleashes a plague of invincible 6-foot-tall praying mantises with his friends. Set in Iowa, it’s an apocalyptic coming of age action story that also focuses on adolescent love and budding sexuality.
Wright’s attachment to this particular adaptation dates back to July of 2014, when he was announced as director for Grasshopper Jungle under Sony Pictures. With Sony Pictures no longer attached, the project became the subject of a bidding war that included popular companies like Netflix among the competitors, with New Regency emerging victorious.
THR now reports New Regency is in the final stage of negotiations for the project, with Wright set as director and Matt Tolmach, producer of Rough Night and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, to produce alongside Wright’s producing partner Nira Park. Scott Rosenberg (Venom) wrote the screenplay adaptation of Smith’s novel.
With momentum building toward this summer’s release of Wright’s Baby Driver, the director is already on the lookout for his next project and that could very well be Grasshopper Jungle now that New Regency has picked it up. Baby Driver, written and directed by Wright, impressed audiences at SXSW Film Festival just last month and is set to win over mainstream audiences this July. Previous fan favorite films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End by the director make it no surprise that Wright would be attached to such a quirky young adult project that blurs genres lines.
The bizarre take on the apocalyptic nature of the adaptation, with the giant mantises juxtaposed against the coming of age tale, sounds like a match made in heaven for Wright, having previously melded a romantic comedy with a zombie apocalypse in 2004’s critical darling Shaun of the Dead. The biting humor mixed with the honest yet otherworldly seems like a perfect fit for Wright’s unique style. Wright has also proven to have a knack for developing adolescent coming of age stories blended with fantasy, as in 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
While Smith’s novel seems ripe for film adaptation with Wright in the director’s seat, film adaptations of young adult novels haven’t performed as well at the box office over the past few years. Many franchises, like the Divergent series, failed to draw in the numbers studios expected following the success of The Hunger Games. Considering that Smith’s novel is a standalone narrative and has even drawn comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, as well as Wright’s trajectory for wooing mainstream audiences, Grasshopper Jungle won’t be easily judged against traditional young adult projects.
We’ll keep you updated on Grasshopper Jungle as development continues.