While The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a sure-fire hit, and Summit Entertainment’s the upcoming Divergent lurks just around the bend, Lionsgate is cornering the market on post-apocalyptic young adult film franchises. It looks like the studio has found a new series of YA books to adapt, and some big name filmmakers may bring it to the big screen.
According to The Wrap, Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future) is in final negotiations to direct the film adaptation of Chaos Walking, the first of (hopefully) a new YA sci-fi trilogy. Doug Davison and Allison Shearmur are set to produce the film under the Quadrant Pictures banner for Lionsgate. Zemeckis would team up with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Human Nature), who is currently writing the screenplay from author Patrick Ness’ novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go. That’s right, Robert Zemeckis might direct a film written by Charlie Kaufman, wrap your brain around that one.
The Chaos Walking trilogy is set in a dystopian future where humans have colonized a distant Earth-like planet called New World. But when a mysterious infection called the Noise suddenly makes all thought audible, personal privacy is taken away and the world plunges into chaos. The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first of three novels that follow Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade, two children who grow up in New World as the planet gets into civil war between the colonizing humans and the planet’s native inhabitants.
Lionsgate is looking to get a new young adult film franchise in place after The Hunger Games series leaves theaters in 2015. While Divergent can go either way as a hit or a miss, Chaos Walking has a good chance for success with Zemeckis and Kaufman on board.
The Chaos Walking book received mostly positive reviews when the first book came out in 2008. It received the Guardian and James Tiptree, Jr. Awards. The second book in the series, The Ask and the Answer, received almost universal acclaim. Publisher’s Weekly called it “the best YA science fiction novels of the year.” The third installment, Monsters of Men, took home the Carnegie Medal—the other two were shortlisted—and also a nomination for the Arthur C. Clarke award for best science fiction novel. So it sounds like the book series is something worth reading.
It seems like Zemeckis wants to get back to directing big blockbusters after the success of Flight in 2012. Over the last decade Zemeckis’ career has seen a few box office disappointments, like A Christmas Carol and Beowulf. Zemeckis’ company, ImageMovers Digital, was also on the hook for the disastrous Mars Needs Moms for Disney in 2011.
As for Kaufman, he’s an Academy Award-winning screenwriter for his sci-fi romance Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as well as nominations for Being John Malkovich in 1999 and Adaptation, which he co-wrote with his fictional brother Donald, in 2002. Chaos Walking will be his first screenplay since his mind-bending directorial debut Synecdoche, New York in 2008.
While Lionsgate didn’t reveal a release date for Chaos Walking, they’re most likely aiming for a 2015 or 2016 release date to follow up the conclusion of The Hunger Games films.