EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is looking to build a film franchise from Spirit Animals, the Scholastic series of books that revolve around four kids who come age in the land of Erdas with the power to form a rare bond with animals that include a wolf, leopard, panda and falcon. They become the world’s last hope as a dark force rises against civilization. John Fusco will write the script, and Deborah Forte is producing through Silver Tongue Productions.

Animals Cover_MOCKUP.inddThe series launched with Brandon Mull’s Wild Born, and different writers have handled subsequent editions of the bestselling seven-book adventure series.

Fusco, who adapted the William Paul Young novel The Shack into a film Lionsgate releases in November, also wrote Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny, Hidalgo and Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron. He has also spearheaded Marco Polo, the series for The Weinstein Company and Netflix which has completed Season 2.

“My interests in warrior culture, environmental themes and animals made this a very appealing project for me,” Fusco told Deadline. “It will be edgy, in the context of an epic family film.”

Fusco is repped by UTA and Anonymous Content.