EXCLUSIVE: As the dust settles from a multi-studio bidding battle that played out over two weeks, Netflix has won screen rights to the celebrated Aaron Blabey children’s novel Thelma the Unicorn. Jared and Jarusha Hess, whose work includes Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, have been set to adapt the book into an animated musical family feature. Jared Hess will direct it.
It’s the second time that a Blabey-authored book has caused a studio stampede, with DreamWorks Animation winning rights to his last one, Bad Guys. Hess last directed Masterminds and episodes of the Will Forte series The Last Man on Earth.
Blabey and Patrick Hughes of Foundation Media Partners will be the executive producers.
When a rare pink and glitter-filled moment of fate makes Thelma the Pony’s wish of being a unicorn come true, she rises to instant international pop-superstar stardom, but at an unexpected cost. The message of Thelma the Unicorn is about learning to love who you are, even if you don’t have sparkles.
“We are huge fans of Aaron’s work,” said Jared and Jerusha Hess. “The lovable misfits in his books feel right at home for us. It is a dream come true to be collaborating with him and Netflix on an animated feature of Thelma the Unicorn.”
Said Blabey: “I’m beyond excited that my beautiful phoney Unicorn is going to sparkle her way onto the screen in a big, glittery Netflix film. Thelma is so ready for her close-up!”
Thelma the Unicorn has sold over 1.6 million copies to date and has been distributed in 14 countries. Blabey has 13 million books in print between Thelma the Unicorn, The Bad Guys and Pig the Pug, in over 30 countries.
Netflix adds the project to a growing feature animation slate that includes the June 7 release Pachamama, the Sergio Pablos-directed Klaus with SPA Studios, the Kris Pearn-directed The Willoughbys with BRON Studios, the Glen Keane-directed Over the Moon from Pearl Studios, and the adult animated feature I Lost My Body from director Jérémy Clapin and Xilam Animation. Netflix acquired the latter at Cannes.
Jared & Jerusha Hess are repped by UTA, Sloane, Offer and Sloss Eckhouse.
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