Producers Joe Roth and Palak Patel are teaming up with Channing Tatum (in a production capacity, not as an actor) on Neverland, a new film that will explore the origins of author/playwright J.M. Barrie’s eternally youthful creation, Peter Pan.
The project is based on a idea devised by Tatum, along with his Iron Horse banner partner Reid Carolin and relative newcomer Eric Bromberg, which screenwriter Billy Ray (State of Play, The Hunger Games) and Roth Films executives then developed into a full pitch for Sony – one originally titled Peter Pan Begins, then renamed just Pan - before Neverland was settled on.
Variety says that filmmaker Gavin O’Connor (Pride and Glory, Miracle, Warrior) has entered talks which would see him brought aboard to direct Neverland. Furthermore, should O’Connor sign on for the project, he will “oversee” the next script draft of the fantasy adventure.
Roth and Patel’s involvement with Neverland in particular makes sense enough, seeing how the two have recently worked on other such classic literary spinoffs as this summer’s Snow White and the Huntsman (a fairy tale re-imagining) and next spring’s Oz: The Great and Powerful (a Wizard of Oz prequel). Likewise, Roth worked behind the scenes on Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (a sequel to the original Lewis Carroll story) and will also be involved with the upcoming Maleficent (a post-modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty).
So how exactly then does O’Connor, an acclaimed filmmaker best known for crafting emotionally-tumultous and often (literally) hard-hitting dramas that tend to focus heavily on themes of family and blood ties, fit in the picture? Well, longtime Screen Rant readers might recall that the original pitch for Neverland (back when it was called Pan) included a “plot twist” where it is revealed that Peter Pan and Captain Hook are actually brothers, who ended up going their separate ways in life before becoming the arch-rivals featured in Barrie’s original Peter Pan play and novel.
While it’s not officially a given that the Neverland script (in its current form) still retains that sure-to-be-divisive plot point, O’Connor’s being in negotiations to helm the flick strongly suggests it does. More so, the prospect of having someone with O’Connor’s talent and experience take a stab at making that tweaked Pan/Hook dynamic work is actually an enticing one… assuming you’re able to stop rolling your eyes at the very idea of the two being related, that is.
As mentioned before, Tatum is reportedly not going to be starring in Neverland, so both of the film’s two central roles are up for grabs. Best to wait and see then who’s brought onboard to handle the respective parts of Pan and Hook (not to mention, if O’Connor actually signs on to direct) before speculating too much more about how good or bad this re-imagining of an iconic classic literature character’s backstory is going to be.
Expect to learn more about Neverland over the forthcoming months.