EXCLUSIVE: Momo is ready for her close-up. Orion Pictures is partnering with Roy Lee’s Vertigo Entertainment and producer Taka Ichise to develop a horror film based on the creepy sculpture now known globally as Momo thanks to the viral hoax called Momo’s Challenge.
The sculpture by Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso was part of a 2016 gallery exhibit in Tokyo and is actually called Mother Bird but its bizarre visage was appropriated last year by the pixel pranksters who concocted rumors about Momo’s Challenge, a sordid game that purportedly encourages children to endanger or injure themselves.
The hoax got major traction in February when Kim Kardashian shared the image with her 145 million followers on Instagram and warned parents that Momo messages are hidden in YouTube content. YouTube officials dismissed the reports but Momo had already reached full-blown urban legend status after child-endangerment reports in Scotland and Argentina were covered by local media as potentially Momo-related incidents.
Orion’s untitled Momo project may widen the story beyond the contemporary digital age. Aiso’s sculpture was rooted in the legend of Ubume, a venomous, child-snatching bird of Japanese folklore.
The project reunites Lee and Ichise, the same tandem who brought The Grudge and The Ring franchises to horror fans. Lee also produced the highest-grossing horror hit in Hollywood history, New Line’s It, as well as its upcoming sequel, It: Chapter 2. Dan Kagan will oversee the production on behalf of Orion Pictures.
Lee is represented by CAA. Ichise is represented by UTA.
The Momo Challenge is also the announced inspiration for Getaway, an upcoming horror film from Emagine Content and November 11th Pictures that stars Stef Beaton and Alex Brown.