Henry Selick plumbed the depths of an adolescent girl’s psyche and fears with his dazzling 3D stop-motion fantasy Coraline, based on the Neil Gaiman novel. He was planning to next tackle The Graveyard Book, another lauded (and scary) Gaiman story for children; one that serves as a companion piece to Coraline, with its young male protagonist Nobody Owens, Jungle Book-inspired narrative and gloomy world populated by friendly specters and mysterious killers.
Sadly, Disney and Selick parted ways last summer, setting The Graveyard Book on course for a complete overhaul. Scroll on down to learn what’s in the cards for the Gaiman project, now that Selick’s proposed vision (ie. another 3D stop-motion feature) is being abandoned.
Heat Vision is reporting that Graveyard Book has been “reconfigured” as a live-action movie, with Ron Howard currently in talks to direct. The Oscar-winning actor turned filmmaker will be supervising the writing of a fresh screenplay (should he sign on), with Oscar-nominated producer Gil Netter (The Blind Side, Life of Pi) and Ben Browning (Ondine, Sanctum) backing alongside Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment. There’s no mention of the prospective new screenwriter in the THR report, though.
Gaiman’s source material is summarized as follows:
Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family.
Browning is one of the holdovers from when UK Effects House Framestone optioned Graveyard Book, with Oscar-winner Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Ondine) writing and directing. Gaiman’s lauded supernatural coming-of-age parable meeting the storyteller responsible for In the Company of Wolves and The Butcher Boy reads as a holy marriage, in different (but equal) ways as Selick handling the project does; unfortunately, neither promising scenario is happening. C’est la vie.
Howard is not without talent, but he’s more likely to deliver the “safe” product that Disney prefers (rather than the artistically-challenging interpretation from Jordan or Selick). Not to mention, Graveyard Book requires a reasonable investment – to properly create its fantastical characters and world – and Howard’s pictures are of the bankable variety more often than his predecessors’ films. Anyway, the source novel is quite treasured, so here’s hoping the movie turns out well.
Howard attached himself to direct All I’ve Got last week; that’s to say, neither his involvement nor immediate progress on The Graveyard Book are guaranteed… not yet, anyway. We’ll be sure to keep you posted.