Disney is developing Peter and the Starcatchers, a film adaptation of the popular 2004 children’s fantasy adventure novel that’s already been turned into a Tony-winning stage production.
The book (co-written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson) is a standalone Peter Pan tale that takes place prior to the events of J.M. Barrie’s famous story about the boy who never grew up. Hence, it’s considered a Peter Pan prequel, by default.
THR reports that four-time Oscar-nominee Gary Ross has entered talks to helm Peter and the Starcatchers, where he would work from an initial script draft penned by Jesse Wigutow (who’s also writing the upcoming Crow reboot). It’s one of a few projects competing to become Ross’ directorial followup to his mega-successful Hunger Games adaptation – the other being the historical fiction/adventure tale, Houdini.
It’s common practice in Hollywood nowadays for there to be multiple films based around the same famous literary property in development (Sleeping Beauty, The Wizard of Oz, etc.), and Peter Pan is no exception. Case in point: Sony has a direct prequel to Barrie’s original creation in the works, titled Neverland – and there’s the murder-mystery spinoff Pan from visual effects animator Ben Hibons (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1) – in addition to Peter and the Starcatchers, obviously.
Peter and the Starcatchers is also the first in a trilogy, rounded out by Peter and the Shadow Thieves and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. The series chronicles the adventures of a young(er) Peter Pan, a girl named Molly, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and a “familiar” pirate known as Black Stache (three guesses who he becomes). Here’s a brief, semi-official synopsis of the first installment in the prequel series:
A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the NeverLand, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger.
That’s all to say: Peter and the Starcatchers meets the criteria for a present-day blockbuster (brand recognition, built-in franchise potential). Nonetheless, Ross is a very talented storyteller and he could easily deliver a captivating cinematic take on the book. Moreover, by most accounts, this is one of the rare literary spinoffs that truly stands on its own feet – and offers quality entertainment, even for those who are otherwise unfamiliar with the mythology of Peter Pan. So take that for what it’s worth.
We’ll keep you updated on Peter and the Starcatchers as the story develops.