EXCLUSIVE: Brenda Chapman, the animation veteran who won the Oscar for Disney/Pixar’s Brave, has been set to make her live-action film directing debut in Come Away, a fantasy drama penned by Marissa Kate Goodhill that is being imagined as a prequel to Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
Former Paramount production president Michelle Manning, Leesa Kahn and Andrea Keir are producing.
The premise: Before Alice went to Wonderland, and before Peter became Pan, they were brother and sister. When their eldest brother dies in a tragic accident, they each seek to save their parents from their downward spirals of despair until finally they are forced to choose between home and imagination, setting the stage for their iconic 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.
Chapman’s helming credits include DreamWorks Animation’s The Prince of Egypt, and she has worked on such animated staples as Chicken Run and The Little Mermaid, along with Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Her story credits include Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and she was story supervisor on The Lion King.
“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.”
Manning’s producing credits include John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club before she segued to the top production job at Paramount, where she oversaw pics including Saving Private Ryan and Oscar Best Picture winners Forrest Gump, Braveheart and Titanic. Her most recent producing gig was the Katherine Heigl-Tom Wilkinson pic Jenny’s Wedding, which bowed last year via IFC Films.
Kahn’s producing credits include the James Cameron-produced Sanctum. Keir was previously head of The Secret author Rhonda Byrne’s U.S.-based TV production company.
Chapman is repped by WME and Candace Carlo at Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo who repped the deal. Goodhill is with Thruline Entertainment.