EXCLUSIVE: Selma director Ava DuVernay has just been set by Disney to direct A Wrinkle In Time, an adaptation of the 1963 Newbery Medal-winning Madeleine L’Engle fantasy classic novel that has a script by Oscar-winning Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee. Deadline revealed February 8 that DuVernay had been offered this film and was also in the mix at DreamWorks for Intelligent Life, a sci-fi thriller scripted by Colin Trevorrow and his Jurassic World collaborator Derek Connolly. DuVernay now has the offer on that film and is in negotiations on a pic that has 12 Years A Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o attached to a fable 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 one. That film is produced by Frank Marshall, Trevorrow and Big Beach principals Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub.
It is unclear which film will go first, but A Wrinkle in Time was first to close and it is the culmination of six months of courtship by Disney Motion Pictures president Sean Bailey and exec Tendo Nagenda. A Wrinkle In Time involves a young girl whose government scientist father has gone missing after working on a mysterious project called a tesseract, which involves being transported to a fifth dimension with mysterious inhabited planets. She takes part in a search for her father and sees some incredible creatures along the way.
Both films mark a big step up in scale for DuVernay, a former publicist who proved her mettle by making Selma — a period picture about the historic civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr — for $20 million. It won an Oscar and drew much acclaim. Selma in turn was a big step up from The Middle Of Nowhere, a $200,000 budget feature that won her the Grand Jury Prize and Best Dramatic Director awards at Sundance 2012, and the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirits Awards. She is repped by CAA and attorney Nina Shaw.