A film version of The Graveyard Book, stuck in development hell for more than ten years, may finally see the light of day. According to Deadline, Marc Forster will be directing the adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s award-winning children’s novel, produced by Forster’s producing partner Renée Wolfe through their 2Dux2 banner. The new script will be written by David Magee, whose screenwriting credits include Mary Poppins Returns, Disney‘s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, and Netflix‘s The School for Good and Evil.
Forster has a history of bringing beloved children’s literature to the screen. In 2004, he directed Finding Neverland, a look at Peter Pan playwright and author J.M. Barrie, played by Johnny Depp. Forster previously worked with Disney in 2018 for Christopher Robin, the live-action take on the Winnie the Pooh stories starring Ewan McGregor as the titular character. Other major projects include Stranger Than Fiction, World War Z, and the James Bond flick Quantum of Solace. In addition to post-production work on the Tom Hanks-led A Man Called Otto and Wonder sequel White Bird, Forster is also currently attached to an animated/live-action hybrid based on the popular ‘Thomas & Friends’ toy line.
The film adaptation of The Graveyard Book has gone through several stages through the years. Originally developed for Miramax by Neil Jordan, the rights were later bought by Walt Disney Pictures with the intention of having Henry Selick helm the project, who previously worked with Gaiman‘s material with 2009’s Coraline. After this version was canceled, Ron Howard was in talks to direct a live-action version with a script by Rowan Joffe, but this also fell through.
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book follows a Mowgli-type character, here named Bod, who is raised by ghosts in a graveyard following the death of his parents. Upon its release in 2009, it won several awards including the Newberry Medal, which is the highest honor given to children’s literature. Author Gaiman has had a prolific career as a writer of novels, short stories, and comics. In addition to his work written for film and television, many of his novels and comics have been adapted for the screen including American Gods, Good Omens, and Netflix‘s upcoming The Sandman.
At this time, it is unknown whether The Graveyard Book will receive a theatrical release, or follow in the footsteps of other recent children’s literary adaptations and go straight to Disney+.