Ashleigh Powell has been confirmed as writing the forthcoming movie adaptation of The Hazel Wood. Originally a novel by Melissa Albert, The Hazel Wood tells the story of a teenager named Alice who discovers that her Grandmother's old fairy stories, "Tales From The Hinterland", are far more real and foreboding than the average 'Once Upon A Time' yarn. Alice realizes that the fantasy Hinterland realm is linked to the kidnapping of her Mother and sets out of a journey into the unknown land to rescue her missing parent, learning more about her real-world life in the process.
Released as recently as January this year, The Hazel Wood sparked a scrap between movie studios for the rights to a big-screen adaptation, with Sony's Columbia Pictures eventually coming out on top. Albert's novel has enjoyed success during its first few months on shelves and production is already underway on the live action interpretation, with Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick confirmed to be producing, a duo that have previously worked on the Divergent series, The Great Gatsby and Memoirs of a Geisha.
The adaptation of The Hazel Wood has now found its screenwriter in the form of Ashleigh Powell, as reported by The Wrap. Powell sold her debut script, Somacell, to Warner Bros. in 2012 and the movie had David S. Goyer attached in a producing capacity but news on the project has been quiet in recent years. Since then, Powell has been busy working on another YA fantasy property, The Paper Magician, and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, both for Disney. The Nutcracker movie will feature Keira Knightley and Morgan Freeman and is due for release in November 2018.
Since Powell is relatively fresh to the screenwriting game, it's difficult to say how she'll go about handling the task of bringing Melissa Albert's rich fictional world into the medium of film. It is, however, interesting that while Powell's Somacell was billed as a science fiction thriller with dystopian themes in the style of Minority Report, her recent efforts are rooted within more light-hearted fantasy material. Regardless, the fact that Disney saw fit to sign Powell up for their Nutcracker release is a hugely encouraging sign, and one that could mark the breakthrough of an extremely promising new writer. The Mouse House doesn't just hire anybody, after all.
In the wake of the The Hunger Games movie franchise and the collapse of the Divergent series, many felt that the YA adaptation bubble had finally burst. However, it seems that the trend has instead shifted away from the 'teenagers rebelling against authority' trope and onto more magical-focused, fantastical territory. In addition to The Paper Magician and The Hazel Wood, the long-awaited Artemis Fowl adaptation is also beginning to finally take shape and this forthcoming wave of movies could spark a new scramble of studios looking for book franchises to adapt.
The Hazel Wood is currently without a release date. More news as it arrives.
Source: The Wrap