EXCLUSIVE: Legendary has won an auction for screen rights to Ernest, a short story by Geoff Manaugh published on Vice.com. Christopher Landon, director of the sleeper horror Blumhouse hit Happy Death Day, will both adapt the short story into a feature and direct the film. Dan Halsted and Nate Miller are attached as producers.
Legendary was one of six bidders, with others including Amblin, Studio 8, Sony and Fox 2000, sources said. The project was brought in by newly minted Legendary senior production exec Jon Silk, and WW production vice chairman Mary Parent reeled it in. Manaugh’s short story begins with Jimmy Kimmel asking his TV audience if it wants to see a real ghost. That would be Ernest, so named by the homeowner who discovered him because the apparition looks a bit like Ernest Borgnine. The homeowner, Frank, begins filming his housebound ghost, and sending out the results to the world through social media. The spirit is mostly harmless, confused by his exploitation, but Ernest becomes a global viral sensation.
He conscripts his high school senior Kevin to be part of a series of dinner parties held in the house to cash in on the ghost. This takes a sketchy turn when the teen, and the ghost, turn up missing, endangering Frank’s plans to monetize.
WME brokered the deal and reps Landon and Manaugh. Latter is also repped by Manage-Ment.