Last year was a rough time for acclaimed stop-motion animation director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline), who dropped out from directing a 3D stop-motion treatment of Coraline author Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel The Graveyard Book – now being envisioned as a live-action adaptation with Ron Howard potentially at the helm – and was thereafter unable to gain funding for his original stop-motion project The Shadow King (originally, ShadeMaker), even from the lauded animation studio, Laika (ParaNorman).
K5 International stepped in to provide financing for Shadow King earlier this year, so the tedious (yet, ultimately-rewarding) stop-motion photography process on the film has been ongoing since then. Nonetheless, it would appear that Selick has gone ahead and settled on his followup directorial effort, now that he’s set to helm a live-action movie version of the children’s book, A Tale Dark & Grimm.
Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm (and Grimm-inspired) fairy tales. An irreverent, witty narrator leads us through encounters with witches, warlocks, dragons, and the devil himself. As the siblings roam a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind the famous tales, as well as how to take charge of their destinies and create their own happily ever after. Because once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.
The initial report from Deadline includes a quote from Selick, wherein he refers to Gidwitz’s book as “a hilarious, deeply inventive tale about survival in the world of fairytales and what it takes to forgive one’s parents.” On those grounds alone, you can see the similarities between Tale Dark & Grimm and the darkly-fantastical storyline (with a coming of age narrative subtext) in Coraline; and thus, the reason that Gidwitz’s fairy tale blend (and exploration of the “true stories” behind them) would be all the more appealing to Selick.
Admittedly, Selick’s directing track record with stop-motion animation – which includes the Roald Dahl novel adaptation James and the Giant Peach – is far more impressive than his work in the live-action medium, so that puts a bit of a damper on the news that he’s adapting Tale Dark & Grimm with flesh-and-blood characters onscreen.
Then again, the sole live-action flick on Selick’s resume is Monkeybone, a twisted comedy/fantasy (starring Brendan Fraser) that’s mostly interested in weirding out adults – so chances are, Tale Dark & Grimm will turnout better, even if the adapted script by Jon Gunn and John W. Mann (Mercy Street) isn’t all that grand. Not to mention, between this project and Disney’s upcoming Into the Woods musical adaptation, this upcoming small wave of fairy tale mashups sounds more promising than the larger wave of fairy tale re-imaginings that proceeded it.
We’ll keep you updated on the status of A Tale Dark & Grimm as the story develops.