Fans of DreamWorks Animation's latest bestselling franchise feature Kung Fu Panda 3 are no doubt familiar with director Jennifer Yuh Nelson's work behind the scenes, if not by name. Nelson got her start working for the animation department on various television series in the late 1990s, including the franchise spin-off program The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest and the animated series adaptation of comic book creator Todd McFarlane's Spawn.
Shortly thereafter, Nelson found herself moving along a career track at DreamWorks Animation, where she cut her teeth working on such big budget franchise productions as the first Madagascar film in 2005. Since then, Nelson made her directorial debut with Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011 (followed by Kung Fu Panda 3 earlier this year), but her next big job will find her working for another production studio entirely with The Darkest Minds.
According to THR, Nelson has been tapped by Fox to direct The Darkest Minds, a live-action adaptation of the YA book trilogy by Alexandra Bracken about a post-apocalyptic world wherein the only remaining teenagers alive have been imbued with superpowers who the government hopes to contain and control in internment camps. The production is being pitched as mixing superhero conventions with coming-of-age narratives like Stand By Me, with just a touch of the survivalist realism of The Walking Dead.
Standing as the first live-action film that Nelson has been assigned thus far to direct, it remains to be seen how capably the DreamWorks Animation stalwart will fare when she makes the move from directing voice actors to full-fledged physical performers. With any luck, the intricately detailed and lavishly realized set pieces and sequences on display in both Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 will serve Nelson well as she makes the move to live-action for Fox on The Darkest Minds.
Based on the outstanding series of YA novels and thematic premise alone, it will take a considerable amount of ingenuity and dramatic tinkering to make The Darkest Minds into the next big blockbuster hit in the same vein as The Maze Runner or Divergent series that Fox is likely angling for it to become. Nelson has certainly established herself as a go-to director within the field of feature-length animated productions, but all eyes will now be on her as she makes her first foray into the realm of a major live-action production, replete with a cast of actual real-life actors.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on all information related to The Darkest Minds.
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