Lionsgate has bought a pitch by Hoodwinked creator/producer Hardy Howl Films to turn the classic Tomie dePaola children's book series Strega Nona into a feature. Ian Bryce will produce. The Caldecott Award winning book series was first published in 1975 and was recently reprinted by Simon & Schuster.
Hardy Howl Films’ Hoodwinked was one of the most profitable animated films ever, the followup to the Sundance feature Chillicothe. Strega Nona will be next on the menu for the Hardy Howl team of writer/directors Todd Edwards, Timothy Hooten and writer/producer Katie Hooten.
Strega Nona—Grandma Witch—is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical ever-full pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony, who is employed to look after her house and tend her garden. One day, when Strega Nona goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.
Bryce, whose credits include Saving Private Ryan and Almost Famous, produces through his Ian Bryce Productions banner, and Aimee Blank will oversee for the producer.
Said Bryce: “The minute we read Strega Nona, Nona had us under her spell and we are incredibly excited to be bringing such a beloved book series to audiences and families around the world.”
Said dePaola, whose books have sold over 25 million copies, said he was “delighted that my beloved characters Strega Nona, and friends, will be brought to life on screen through the collaboration of Ian Bryce Productions and Lionsgate. I couldn't be more grateful during this holiday season.”
The author is represented by Doug Whiteman of The Whiteman Agency and Hardy Howl is repped by Madhouse Entertainment, UTA and Morris/Yorn while Bryce is repped by UTA.
The cuts, numbering in the high teens, go into effect this week.
Lionsgate has laid off a number of employees within the film marketing and distribution team, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
According to a source familiar with the matter, some 15 to 20 employees across the entire company were given pink slips, many as part of an ongoing restructuring of the film group's marketing and distribution divisions. The source added that the layoffs had been in the works for months and were not impacted by the shutdowns caused by the growing coronavirus pandemic. No other layoffs are currently planned at the studio, which concludes its fiscal year on March 31.
Lionsgate's movie studio has seen success with Rian Johnson's Knives Out which grossed $311 million worldwide, and with a sequel in the works, Jay Roach's Bombshell $60 million worldwide and its newest release, the faith-based film I Still Believe which grossed $10 million earlier this month before theaters shuttered.
The layoffs come as Hollywood grapples with the closure of film and TV productions and movie theaters going dark to prevent the growing spread of COVID-19 amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Lionsgate was forced to push back the bows of the upcoming films Antebellum originally slated for April 24, Run May 8 and Saw spinoff Spiral May 15, opting to hold for a theatrical release rather than an early VOD release. I Still Believe and Brahms: The Boy II are receiving early digital releases to cater to the audience at home.
This is the second round of layoffs under Joe Drake, who was named chairman of the film group in 2018. In January 2019, some 25 employees were let go from the marketing and distribution teams in the company's Santa Monica headquarters amid restructuring of the theatrical marketing division, run by Damon Wolf.
In its most recent earnings report, the studio's motion picture revenues were $473.9 million, up from $362.3 million a year ago, on strong box office from Knives Out and John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Universal has picked up the film rights to New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff’s upcoming YA vampire novel Crave.
Crave, billed as a paranormal fantasy with a feminist perspective, follows a human girl who finds herself in the midst of a conflict between warring factions when she falls for a vampire prince, Jaxon Vega. He’s a vampire with deadly secrets who hasn't felt anything for a hundred years. But there's something about him that calls to her, something broken in him that somehow fits with what's broken in her - which could spell death for both of them. The young girl learns that Jaxon has walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake him, a sleeping monster, and she could very well be the bait. The book is available for sale tomorrow, April 7 from Entangled Publishing, distributed by Macmillan in New York.
Wolff is the bestselling author of 64 novels that run the gamut of commercial fiction. She’s a former English professor who now writes full-time from her home in Austin, Texas.
Universal's SVP of Production Jeyun Munford and Creative Executive Christine Sun will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.
Wolff is represented by Emily Sylvan Kim of The Prospect Agency. The deal was negotiated by Nicole Resciniti, The Alliance Rights Agency, and Debbie Deuble Hill at APA.