Brenda Chapman has been tapped to make her live-action film directing debut with the fantasy drama “Come Away,” Deadline confirms. This marks Paramount’s first female-directed film since Ava Duvernay’s 2014 historical drama “Selma.”
The film is imagined as a prequel to “Alice In Wonderland” and “Peter Pan.” Marissa Kate Goodwill is writing the script, with former Paramount production president Michelle Manning, Leesa Kahn and Andrea Keir producing.
“Come Away” will take a look at Alice before she went to Wonderland and before Peter became Pan, and sees them as brother and sister. When their eldest brother dies in a tragic accident, they work together to save their parents from their grief and despair until finally they are forced to choose between home and imagination. This sets the stage for their journeys into Wonderland and Neverland.
“Brenda is a true visionary and her previous experience in perfectly creating imaginary worlds with such precise detail is exactly what is needed to bring to life Marissa’s enchanting script, which explores the universal theme of the importance of family,” said Manning, Kahn and Keir.
While the release date is yet unknown, let’s note that Chapman is the only female director slated to direct a Paramount film in the next couple of years. The studio currently has about 25 consecutive releases scheduled and no female directors appear on the slate through 2018. All the projects currently have male helmers attached.
It’s no secret that there lacks a number of female directors in Hollywood and many have been struggling to beat out the boys. A recent study by Martha Lauzen found that only 9% of the top 100-grossing movies were directed by women last year. The Directors Guild of America released their list go the 80 best-directed films of all time and only one woman made the list. And even if females have a better chance at helming independent films than a major studio movie, the study “Women In Independent Film” stated that women are “not close to achieving parity in the independent realm.”
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Chapman has had a successful career directing the Oscar-winning Disney/Pixar’s “Brave” and DreamWorks Animation’s “The Prince Of Egypt,” and has worked on animated hits like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “The Little Mermaid.” Now, she’s making the live-action crossover and boosting female-led teams with her addition. Which is what we currently need more of.
“I had never really considered directing live-action – animation has always been my genre,” Chapman said. “But when I read Marissa’s fantastical script, I felt that little tingly feeling run up my spine. I thought, ‘Wow! I’ve changed my mind. I want to do this!’ Michelle, Leesa and Andrea impressed me immediately with their unique approach to filmmaking and I’m thrilled to be joining a team of dynamic and creative women.”
Let’s hope Paramount ups their count on female directors in the next years.