EXCLUSIVE: Heyday Films and Studiocanal’s new take on the classic children’s novel The Secret Garden has found its director. Marc Munden will helm from a script penned by Jack Thorne. Shooting starts in the spring with Studiocanal fully financing. David Heyman will produce via his Heyday banner with the company’s Rosie Alison producing alongside him. The picture will be out to cast soon.
Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 book, the story centers on Mary Lennox, a troubled, sickly, 10-year-old orphan who is sent to live with an uncle in England when her parents die in a cholera outbreak. Initially sour and rude, Mary begins to explore the grounds of her uncle’s estate and befriends a robin. After hearing of the eponymous walled garden, she sets out to find it, discovering it to be more magical than she ever could have imagined.
Munden, who’s repped by WME and Independent Talent, is a prolific TV director whose credits include hit sci-fi series Utopia and 2016 mini National Treasure for Channel 4 and Hulu. National Treasure too was scripted by Thorne and won the Best Miniseries BAFTA as well as directing honors for Munden. The pair also recently worked on individual episodes of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams for C4 and Amazon. The in-demand Thorne’s most recent feature is Lionsgate’s Wonder which has had a fantastic run throughout the holidays and beyond with over $230M in global box office.
The Secret Garden has been adapted a number of times for film and television. This feature update is a fresh take on what’s an enduring piece of material that also continues the collaboration between Heyman’s Heyday and Studiocanal who have forged such a successful partnership on the Paddington movies. The latest, Paddington 2, has grossed $163M and counting worldwide. This week it broke a Rotten Tomatoes record for the most consecutive Fresh reviews without a single Rotten. It also has three BAFTA nominations.
Studiocanal currently has Liam Neeson-starrer The Commuter in release and today is unveiling Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie, at Sundance. The company has Nick Park’s animated prehistoric comedy Early Man beginning overseas rollout next week. Lionsgate releases that one domestically on February 16.
Harry Potter and Gravity producer Heyman continues to ramp up diverse TV and feature projects. He recently came aboard to produce Quentin Tarantino’s next film, and in November will see the release of Harry Potter spinoff sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald.