Chances are good you’ve never heard of the Dark Horse comic mini-series Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained. However, chances are also good that you are familiar with Robert Zemeckis, who has agreed to produce a film adaptation titled Charles Fort: a project that’s currently being described as a period version of Ghostbusters.
The Fort comic book was written by Peter M. Lenkov, whose other supernatural graphic novel, R.I.P.D., is also being given a cinematic makeover. Evan Spiliotopoulos – who worked on the scripts for the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman and director McG’s tentatively-defunct Ouija adaptation – will adapt Lekov’s work for the big screen.
Quick history lesson: Charles Fort was a 19th/early 20th century American author who studied anomalous phenomena – ie. purported alien abductions, paranormal activities, and other unexplained events seemingly outside the realm of everyday science (essentially, he’s a real-life Fox Mulder).
Prophet of the Unexplained is a fictional tale that takes place in New York (circa 1899) and sees Charle Fort setting out to track down a bizarre serial killer. He eventually joins forces with not only a young H.P. Lovecraft (ie. the cult author of cosmological horror tales like At the Mountains of Madness), but even an extraterrestrial, who aids Fort after the latter is falsely accused by the authorities as being the mysterious murderer.
In other words: Charles Fort sounds like it should be an unorthodox spin on the buddy film genre (a la R.I.P.D.) that even shares certain story elements with Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That arguably makes it all the more appropriate that Zemeckis is producing the project, which Heat Vision says will be the first developed under a new deal between the filmmaker’s Imagemovers and Universal Pictures.
Strange supernatural tales are an old hat for Zemeckis (as a producer), seeing how he worked on the original Tales from the Crypt TV series – as well as films like the House on Haunted Hill remake, Thir13en Ghosts, and Gothika, among others. More importantly, he should ensure that Charles Fort boasts some great special effects and production values to bring its various paranormal and non-Earthly characters to vivid life.
Spiliotopoulos, by comparison, is a screenwriter whose career could continue to evolve in the near future. He spent the last decade scripting many of Disney’s direct-to-DVD animated sequels or prequels, like The Jungle Book 2, Tarzan II, Cinderalla III: A Twist in Time, or The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning. That’s not exactly a resume to write home about, but give Spiliotopoulos credit: he probably made those cheap cartoons as good as they could possibly be, given the narrative guidelines he was saddled with.
That said: we shall just have to wait and see who signs on to direct and star in Charles Fort. Seeing how the adaptation of Lekov’s R.I.P.D. managed to snag some big names, perhaps this new project based on his graphic novel literature will also prove enticingly weird enough to attract some noteworthy talent.
Expect to hear more about Charles Fort in the future.