UPDATE 2/23/16: Following the February 8th announcement that Ava DuVernay was offered (that we know of, at least) 2 high profile studio projects (one from Disney and the other from DreamWorks), comes news that the filmmaker has officially inked a deal to take on the Disney project first. She still has an offer on the table to direct the DreamWorks project as well, but, apparently that’s still up in the air. But the Disney project is a done deal.
That film is an adaptation of "A Wrinkle In Time," a science/fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1963, which revolves around a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone missing after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract.
Courtesy of Amazon, an official description of the book: "Everyone in town thinks Meg is volatile and dull-witted and that her younger brother Charles Wallace is dumb. People are also saying that their father has run off and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their new friend Calvin, embark on a perilous quest through space to find their father. In doing so they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos, one planet at a time. Young people who have trouble finding their place in the world will connect with the "misfit" characters in this provocative story. This is no superhero tale, nor is it science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep into their characters to find answers. A classic since 1962, Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is sophisticated in concept yet warm in tone, with mystery and love coursing through its pages. Meg’s shattering yet ultimately freeing discovery that her father is not omnipotent provides a satisfying coming-of-age element. Readers will feel a sense of power as they travel with these three children, challenging concepts of time, space, and the power of good over evil."
Reads like something that both children and parents will appreciate, even if for different reasons. But this represents yet another significant leap for Ms DuVernay, who went from the roughly $50,000 "I Will Follow," to the $200,000 "Middle of Nowhere," to the $20 million "Selma," and now what I can only assume will be a significantly higher budget for "A Wrinkle in Time," given its fantastical elements. I believe it’s called progress! She’s in a good place right now, especially for a filmmaker who also happens to be black and a woman, given Hollywood’s history in terms of opportunities for black women filmmakers. How many studio-backed feature films (especially at this level) directed by black women filmmakers can you name?
No word yet on casting for "A Wrinkle in Time."
By the way, "A Wrinkle in Time" is the first in a trilogy of novels by author Madeleine L’Engle, so this could be just the first of 3 films in a franchise. If you’ve read the novel(s), I’d love to read your reactions. If you’d like to own a copy, click here.
Deadline was first to report the news of the Disney deal.
Previous updates follow below.
UPDATE 2/8/2016: 3 hours after my initial post on news that DuVernay was circulating the project, comes news that Lupita Nyong’o is “in negotiations” to star in the sci-fi film “Intelligent Life," which Ava would direct from a script by penned by Colin Trevorrow ("Jurassic World") and his collaborator Derek Connolly, which tells a story about a UN worker in a department designed to represent mankind if there was ever contact with aliens, who falls for a mystery woman who turns out to be an alien. I assume Ms. Nyong’o is "in negotiations" to play the mystery woman in the logline. This is shaping up to be a coup, and I certainly hope deals are worked out favorably on all sides, and this gets fast-tracked!
It’s one of 2 projects that DuVernay is circling – the other being a Disney adaptation of a fantasy novel. Details in my initial post below…
In Reelblack’s videotaped chat with Ava DuVernay published on this blog a couple of weeks ago, while she was at the Sundance Film Festival, she mentioned that, as soon as she’s done with "Queen Sugar" for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, she would move onto her next feature, which, based on what she said in the video, seemed like something she already had in hand, and was ready to get rolling on (although she didn’t spill any details, of course). Some of us began speculating on what it could be – a personal, smaller, independently-financed project, like "Middle of Nowhere," or a studio feature?
But one thing we do know, and can start getting excited about, is that, among the many films that I’m sure she’s being courted to helm, here are 2 that have been made public: one at Disney – an adaptation of "A Wrinkle In Time," a science/fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1963, which revolves around a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone missing after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract; and second, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment wants her for a sci-fi thriller titled "Intelligent Life," which she would direct from a script by Colin Trevorrow ("Jurassic World") and his collaborator Derek Connolly. Apparently, Trevorrow and Amblin really want her for this – a story about a UN worker in a department designed to represent mankind if there was ever contact with aliens, who falls for a mystery woman who turns out to be an alien.
Of course, the news is that both Disney and Amblin want her for each project, it all depends on whether Ms DuVernay is interested in either, or if she has something else entirely in the works that she’d prefer to tackle. So, no we wait…
But this is obviously great news, and should excite!