Disney and Robert Zemeckis' shingle ImageMovers have teamed with Gotham Group for an adaptation of the upcoming young adult novel "Dark Life," by screenwriter and Northwestern University professor Kat Falls. Zemeckis will direct what Disney plans as the first installment in a new family-friendly franchise.
The book is due to be published by Scholastic in May with a big marketing push behind it, Variety reports. The original plan called for a second book as well, but now that the story's been picked up for the franchise treatment, that could easily change.
The story is set against a troubling near-future vision of Earth, a world in which water levels have risen to the point that many people have opted to make their homes on the ocean floor. One funny quirk of living down there: superpowers for the kiddies. The story follows an underwater-residing young boy and a surface-dwelling young girl as they work to uncover a government conspiracy.
The news come just weeks after Disney closed up ImageMovers Digital, the performance-capture studio where Zemeckis worked CG magic on "Polar Express," "Beowulf" and, most recently, "A Christmas Carol." The veteran filmmaker is still directing his planned "Yellow Submarine" remake and is still producing "Mars Needs Moms," which is the last project slated for ImageMovers Digital. It's hard to say how "Dark Life" might affect those other two, particularly "Submarine" since he's helming it.
"Dark Life" is the first novel by Kat Falls, and the Gotham Group won the film rights to the story earlier this year. Aligning with Disney will allow the franchise to spread across multiple entertainment platforms. Gotham has previous experience in the realm of young adult literary adaptations: Their 2008 release "The Spiderwick Chronicles" failed to achieve "Harry Potter" levels of fame, but it was a solid win, with almost double the film's $90 million budget grossed in ticket sales.
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