EXCLUSIVE: Disney has acquired feature film rights to the graphic novel series Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant from author Tony Cliff. The literary property, which is an action adventure tale set in the early 19th century, was first published by First Second Books. The story follows Delilah, described as a female Indiana Jones, as she wields her sword (trained in 47 sword-fighting techniques) and battles pirates and escapes on her flying boat while seeking adventures around the globe.
Miri Yoon is shepherding for Vertigo and Tendo Nagenda and Chaz Salembier are overseeing for Disney.
For Disney, it seems a no-brainer as it encompasses female empowerment at its best for a worldwide moviegoing audience. Clearly the studio is hoping for a franchise with a female hero — and there is the diversity angle as well as it has a multi-ethnic cast (although Disney has been better than most in that regard, especially with its animated films).
In the novel, which will be adapted for the screen — they are currently looking for writers — the female swashbuckler escapes a Turkish prison and as she does befriends a mild-mannered officer named Selim who becomes her sidekick. The book became a New York Times bestseller in 2013 and was named both A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2013 as well as the Best Teen Book of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews.
The rights were sold by Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Victoria Sanders & Associates.