Disney has removed Harvey Weinstein as producer on Kenneth Branagh's Artemis Fowl movie. The long-awaited adaptation of Eoin Colfer's science fiction/fantasy novel series of the same name has been in development ever since the first book hit store shelves in 2001. A handful of writers and directors were initially attached to the project, which floated through different studios, for the better part of a decade, until Disney boarded the project in 2013 and set the adaptation on the correct path.
Harvey Weinstein originally acquired the movie rights to the series through Miramax Films in 2001, and those rights transferred over to The Weinstein Company when Weinstein formed the studio alongside his brother, Bob Weinstein, in 2005. Walt Disney Pictures officially signed on to co-produce and distribute the project in 2013, which would be based on a script by Harry Potter scribe Michael Goldenberg, with Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro producing. It was later reported that Branagh would direct the film, coming on the heels of directing Disney's live-action Cinderella movie. Irish playwright Conor McPherson was then hired to rewrite the script, with Judy Hofflund joining as executive producer. Everything seemed like they were finally progressing smoothly behind-the-scenes... until this week.
A spokesperson for Disney has informed Variety that they have removed Harvey Weinstein from their upcoming Artemis Fowl adaptation, after working with the infamous producer on the film for several years. The spokesperson unequivocally said: "We have terminated his services as producer." While their decision is understandably based on the many recent sexual assault accusations that have been leveled at Weinstein, it's unclear where this decision leaves The Weinstein Company's involvement in the movie.
As previously mentioned, Weinstein originally acquired the rights to the franchise, and he held them through his company, which is why Disney chose to work alongside the producer in the first place. However, with him being removed from the creative team (in the wake of him being fired from the board of his own company earlier this week), it certainly makes sense that the rights themselves would remain with The Weinstein Company. However, considering that the Mouse House failed to elaborate on their decision, we'll just have to wait and see what happens in the long run.
As of now, Branagh's Artemis Fowl adaptation - which will be based on the first two novels in the series: Artemis Fowl and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident - is on schedule to release in August 2019, with Judi Dench possibly joining the cast in an unspecified role.
- Artemis Fowl (2020) release date: May 29, 2020