The late, beloved children's author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, etc.) would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2016, so it's perhaps fitting that the next Dahl book-turned film adaptation will reach theaters in 2016. The project in question is The BFG, directed by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Melissa Mathison - the same duo who gave us the Oscar-winning E.T. the Extraterrestrial back in 1982.
BFG's cast has now been confirmed, as production on the project gets underway in Vancouver. Dahl's fantasy adventure tells the story of young Sophie (newcomer Ruby Barnhill in Spielberg's movie): an orphan who gets whisked away to a land of blood-thirsty giants, albeit under the protection of a kinder - but smaller - one known as the Big Friendly Giant. Three-time Tony winner Mark Rylance (The Gunman) will play the namesake of Spielberg's new film.
Walt Disney Studios is officially set to co-produce and co-finance The BFG, with studio Chairman Alan Horn saying (via press release statement) the project "will undoubtedly capture the minds of children and adults alike - as Roald Dahl's original stories and many of Steve's own film have done for decades." Interesting, The BFG will be the first movie that Spielberg has directed under the watch of the Mouse House, despite having produced features for the company for decades - as the filmmaker noted in his own statement:
“In more than 40 years of making movies, I have been on the producing end of a number of films for The Walt Disney Company, but never as a director. It is a special joy to be in the director’s chair as we start ‘The BFG,’ alongside my long-time friends and film collaborators Kathy Kennedy, who introduced me to this project, Frank Marshall and Melissa Mathison. Together with them and Disney, there are many reasons why I am so excited about this joint venture.”
Many/most of the characters in Dahl's BFG source material are giants of the human-snacking variety - something Mathison carried over in her adapted script, by the look of it. The actors playing giants in the movie include Bill Hader (Trainwreck) and Jemaine Clement (Men in Black 3), as well as lesser-knowns like Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (A Walk Among the Tombstones), Michael David Adamthwaite (Horns), Daniel Bacon (50/50), Adam Godley (Powers), Chris Gibbs (The Samaritan), Jonathan Holmes (Rogue), and Paul Moniz de Sa (Eureka).
Meanwhile, Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey) will portray The Queen (of England - the country threatened by the carnivorous giants from Dahl's source material), while Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3) is playing Mary, the Queen's maid. It's a strong cast, all in all, though different than Spielberg's most recent films - where seemingly every role, no matter how small, was handled by a name actor or well-established character actor (see: Dane DeHaan and David Oyelowo's cameos in Lincoln, for such an example).
Dahl's BFG, all things considered, sounds like a perfect match for Spielberg's type of storytelling: it's whimsical yet exciting, with darker elements that are offset by a wide-eyed playfulness and some adult wit. Today's special effects should allow Dahl's world of giants to be brought to vivid cinematic life, with help from the new music composed by John Williams - who passed on scoring Spielberg's Fall 2015 movie release Bridge of Spies (due to a health issue that's since been resolved), but is already confirmed for BFG.
On a closing note: those who're happy to see Spielberg return to his crowd-pleasing adventure movie roots with his Dahl adaptation - after focusing on historical drama on his last three directorial efforts (War Horse, Lincoln, and Bridge of Spies) - should also be glad to hear about the filmmaker's current planned followup to BFG: the sci-fi adventure novel adaptation Ready Player One (with a 2017 release date now looking possible).
The BFG opens in U.S. theaters on July 1st, 2016.
Source: Walt Disney Studios