UPDATE: This Disney deal for Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book keeps getting more interesting. I’ve learned that Henry Selick, who helmed Gaiman’s Coraline, is now attached to direct The Graveyard Book at Disney. Selick, best known for Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, is already working for Disney-based Pixar on a top secret film. But he’ll do this one after. Selick is repped by The Gotham Group. They are looking for a screenwriter now.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 2:54 PM: Disney just made a high six-figure deal for The Graveyard Book, the bestselling children’s title by Neil Gaiman. The book, which won the Newbery Medal among other awards, is a riff on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Instead of a boy raised by wolves in the jungle, Gaiman tells the story of the surviving child of a murdered family raised by ghosts in a graveyard. Gaiman’s works include Coraline, The Sandman and American Gods.
The book attracted attention at every studio upon release, and it was optioned for a large fee by UK Effects House Framestore, along with Wayfare’s Ben Browning. They had Neil Jordan attached to direct, but never got it off the ground, even though they kept renewing the option. Disney production chief Sean Bailey stepped in, and won the title in a competitive bidding situation with other studios. Gil Netter is producing with Browning, with Wayfare’s Michael Maher exec producing. The project is a priority for the studio and a potential coup for Bailey.