[UPDATE: Coraline director Henry Selick is now attached to helm The Graveyard Book!]
The literary works of renowned author Neil Gaiman have been successfully translated into cinematic form in recent years (Stardust, Coraline). Similarly, two of the fan-fave writer’s most famous creations – the novel American Gods and his Sandman graphic novel/comic book series – are currently in the early stages of being television series.
Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book – a piece of children’s literature that’s been awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Newberry Medal (among others) – is also now prepped to make the jump to the big screen, with Walt Disney Pictures backing the production.
Deadline has learned that Oscar-nominee Gil Netter is currently attached to produce The Graveyard Book for Disney. He’s a backer with a pretty eclectic resume that includes literary adaptations of all three shades – namely, successful (Marley & Me), moderately-successful (Water for Elephants) and not-so-successful (Eragon). Netter is also backing Ang Lee’s Life of Pi adaptation, which has been generating lots of good buzz this past week at CinemaCon.
Partly inspired by The Jungle Book, Graveyard Book tells the tale of Nobody (Bod for short) Owens, whose family is murdered when he’s just an infant. Nobody inadvertently escapes being killed after climbing out of his crib and making his way over to a nearby graveyard. There, the ghostly residents and enigmatic caretaker, Silas, raise the boy and protect him from his parents’ killer: a mysterious man named Jack, who belongs to an equally mysterious (and sinister) organization.
UK Effects House Framestone optioned The Graveyard Book for a movie adaptation a couple years back, with Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Michael Collins) slated to direct. While that version of the project ultimately failed to get off the ground, Jordan’s Onidine producer and co-executive producer – Ben Browning and Michael Maher of Wayfare, respectively – are still onboard to back the adaptation.
Graveyard Book read (no pun) as ripe material for someone like Jordan to handle, given his expertise in the area of supernatural horror parables (The Company of Wolves, Interview with the Vampire). Hopefully, Disney will recruit a fitting replacement for Jordan – someone capable of effectively translating the mixture of morbid and sentimental elements present in Gaiman’s source material into cinematic form (like Henry Selick did with Coraline).
UPDATE: Speak of the devil – since they first broke the story, Deadline has learned that Selick is now attached to direct The Graveyard Book. Considering that the filmmaker specializes in stop-motion animation (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline), it stands to reason that he’ll also employ that technology to bring the story of Nobody Owens to life on the big screen. Intriguing, for sure.
We will keep you up-to-date on the status of The Graveyard Book as the story (again, no pun) develops.