Martin Scorsese May Play For Families, With An Adaptation Of ‘The Invention Of Hugo Cabret’

Two genres that don’t come to mind when the name Martin Scorsese is mentioned are family films and science fiction. But the director of family-unfriendly classics like “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas” is thinking about doing an adaptation of the Georges Melies-inspired children’s book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” as his next project, which would further delay his anticipated Frank Sinatra biopic.

He’s apparently been thinking about “Cabret” for awhile, because Variety first reported on his potential helming of it three years ago, when Warner Bros. and producer Graham King (“The Departed”) bought the rights to the book with Scorsese in mind.

We’re reminded of the length of development for this project by The Playlist, who wrote an update on its status two weeks ago (courtesy of The Auteurs Daily), acknowledging that European media sources were claiming Scorsese is not only directing “Hugo,” but he’ll begin shooting in Paris and then London come May. Well, Variety is now confirming that information — sort of — by reporting that Scorsese is still merely “in talks.”

Regardless of where it stands or how quickly we come by the facts of its production, “Hugo” is one of the most interesting projects to be in development at the moment. It’s not solely the concept of Scorsese making a kids’ movie (which Variety notes is a current trend for high-profile filmmakers, such as Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze). It’s also curious to think about how different the film will be through Scorsese’s eye as opposed to that of Chris Wedge (“Ice Age,” “Robots”), who was previously attached to direct the film.

Either director would have worked from the same script, written by John Logan, who also penned Scorsese’s “The Aviator.” The story, a 526-page, illustrated book which earned author Brian Selznick the Randolph Caldecott Medal, involves a young orphan investigating the mystery of a broken robot in 1930s Paris, as well as legendary experimental/fantasy filmmaker Georges Melies (“A Trip to the Moon”). The latter aspect likely appeals greatly to Scorsese, as he is as great a film historian and cinephile as he is a filmmaker.

One thing that is noteworthy in Variety’s confirmation piece is that original studio Warner Bros. appears to have let go of the project, despite its clear appropriateness for the studio looking for its next “Harry Potter.” Graham King’s GK Films is reportedly looking to distribute either through Sony or Paramount, the latter of which is opening Scorsese’s latest, “Shutter Island,” next month.

What do you think of the idea of Scorsese directing a family-friendly movie like this? Have you read the book? Like it?