EXCLUSIVE: Boy, does Joe Roth have the hot hand when it comes to irreverent fairy tale fare. Deadline revealed last Thursday that the Oz The Great And Powerful producer had partnered with Jane Startz Production to acquire movie rights to The School For Good And Evil. After a spirited auction, Universal Pictures won the property in a seven-figure deal for book and scriptwriting fees. It’s the first title in a novel trilogy by Soman Chainani that will be published in the U.S. by HarperCollins on May 14 and in the U.K. on June 6. The trilogy tells the story of ordinary boys and girls who are kidnapped from their homes and sent to The School for Good and Evil, where they are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains, princesses and witches.
The protagonist is Sophie, a beauty who is dumped into the School for Evil while her homely best friend Agatha is taken to the School for Good. Both girls find their fortunes reversed and are forced to confront the truth about their unexpected destinies. The book debuted this weekend #7 on The New York Times Bestseller list.
Universal is an easy fit for Roth and his top exec Palak Patel, both of whom will produce with Startz. Roth and Patel produced Snow White And The Huntsman at Universal, and have a sequel in the works. They are also working with the studio on Daughter Of Smoke & Bone, an adaptation of Laini Taylor’s novel that also has franchise potential. Chainani and Hook scribe Malia Scotch Marmo are attached to write the screenplay, which is interesting in that they met when Scotch Marmo was Chainani’s college professor. CAA reps the author (who’s repped in the UK by Sayle Screen), and CAA also reps Roth along with attorneys Harry Brittenham and Sam Fischer. Starz is repped by attorney Maggie Pisacane.