This year, Walt Disney Studios will be offering a unique look at a part of their own history in Saving Mr Banks, a film about the making of Mary Poppins and the extreme disapproval of author P.L. Travers at seeing the stern nanny from her books repackaged as a sweet, singing beauty who frolics with cartoon penguins.
Today, Mary Poppins is considered a classic, but whenever a well-loved book series gets a movie adaptation, especially by an entertainment giant like Disney, the excitement of seeing the stories on the big screen is tempered with a certain amount of anxiety over how faithful to the spirit of the source material the movie will be. With that in mind, fans of Irish author Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, which has so far sold more than 21 million copies worldwide, should brace themselves as Disney and Harvey Weinstein have just announced plans to make a movie based on the first and second books in the series.
Weinstein originally acquired the movie rights to Artemis Fowl through Miramax Films in 2001, with Lawrence Guterman (Son of the Mask) later becoming attached to direct the project. It spent over a decade in development hell, but has now resurfaced as a collaborative effort between Disney and Weinstein, with Robert de Niro and Jane Rosenthal, who originally brought the book to Weinstein's attention, acting as executive producers.
The script will be written by Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), but it's not yet known whether this will be based on the screenplay that was originally co-written by Colfer himself and Jim Sheridan (In America).
The best-selling novels upon which the film will be based are about a young antihero called Artemis Fowl II, who uses his wealth and genius to become a notorious criminal mastermind. Artemis is twelve years old at the beginning of the first novel and the series covers him growing up through his teenage years and repeatedly clashing with a modernized version of fairy culture - in particular with Captain Holly Short of LEPrecon, the reconnaissance division of the Lower Elements Police. Artemis first encounters the fairy world when he makes the mistake of kidnapping Holly and demanding a ransom, and the two characters go on to develop an antagonistic relationship throughout periods of both opposition and cooperation.
So far there are eight main books in the Artemis Fowl series, the most recent one being "Artemis Fowl and The Last Guardian," along with two graphic novel adaptations and two tie-in books. The series blends humor and fantasy into fast-paced thriller plots, and is comparable to the Terry Pratchett novels written for children and young adults. The Artemis Fowl novels acted as a kind of antidote to the Harry Potter mania that was especially prevalent in the early 2000s; they featured a protagonist who was around the same age as Harry, but who used his "powers" for nefarious deeds rather than good ones.
Colfer's novels definitely deserve a big screen adaptation, but there are certain concerns when it comes to well-loved properties like Artemis Fowl being handed over to Disney. For starters, there is a significant chance that the story will be lifted out of its Irish homeland, where the fairy folklore upon which it is built comes from, and moved across the Atlantic to make it more palatable for US audiences.
Of course, it's still far too early to get an idea of what the Artemis Fowl movie will be like. Order of the Phoenix was definitely one of the better Harry Potter movies, so Goldenberg's involvement is definitely a promising sign for this adaptation.
Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, says that Artemis Fowl is a "natural fit" for the studio. Tell us if you think he's right in the comments.
Walt Disney hasn't yet announced a release date for Artemis Fowl, but we'll keep you up to date on any further news about the film.
Source: Walt Disney