Lionsgate are making sure they aren’t caught with their pants down when “The Hunger Games” series inevitably comes to an end. Even though the first film is still in theaters, they aren’t wasting any time in making sure they have another big hit franchise to keep the blockbuster money train going once “Mockingjay” brings the adventures of Katniss to a close. And the answer to Suzanne Collins seems to be Patrick Ness, with Lionsgate are hoping his “Chaos Walking” series of books can work the same magic. In order to attract the best talent possible to the material, they’re picked a pretty brilliant screenwriter to get the ball rolling.
Charlie Kaufman has been hired to adapt the first book, “The Knife Of Never Letting Go.” Another futuristic, dystopian tale (is there any other kind?) this series centers on two youngsters (of course) Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade, and takes place on an Earth-like planet that humans have colonized. When an infection called The Noise sweeps through that causes everyone to be able hear each other’s thoughts, Todd discovers a space of rare silence, only to find out somehow Viola is able to create the noise-free space, and the two are forced to go on the run. And yes, this is basically a book that makes little sense in summary, and is probably much more clear in the actual novels (please see movie descriptions of “The Host” as another example).
Anyway, Kaufman is a surprising choice….or is he? Remember, he did a polish on “Kung Fu Panda 2” a couple years back and frankly, it’s the kind of gig that likely pays well and can help keep his other projects brewing. Of course there is the gestating Hollywood satire/musical thing “Frank Or Francis,” which was supposed to shoot this year, but is apparently still in need of financing. “…it’s difficult to talk about because they keep moving the start date,” Kevin Kline recently told Vulture. “I haven’t talked to Charlie Kaufman in four or five months. I’m waiting for a start date before I take it seriously. In our current economy, I’ve seen movies have start dates, have full casts, and then it all falls through. One investor pulls out and then it’s, ‘Well, we have to raise more money.’ ‘Oh, we’ll do it in five months.’ So I’m just waiting to see when it happens. I’m confident and the producer is confident.”
And it was just a few weeks ago that it was announced that Kaufman was also writing a novel and while we’re sure he recevied an advance, those don’t make any real money until after their published. So all in all, ‘Knife’ is probably a helluva nice gig for Kaufman to take.
Meanwhile on Lionsgate’s end, the series is an acclaimed, best-selling, award-winning series, so why not get the best person you can find? [Deadline]