EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has bought a pitch by Hoodwinked creator/producer Hardy Howl Films to turn the classic Tomie dePaola children’s book series Strega Nona into a feature. Ian Bryce will produce. The Caldecott Award winning book series was first published in 1975 and was recently reprinted by Simon & Schuster.
Hardy Howl Films’ Hoodwinked was one of the most profitable animated films ever, the followup to the Sundance feature Chillicothe. Strega Nona will be next on the menu for the Hardy Howl team of writer/directors Todd Edwards, Timothy Hooten and writer/producer Katie Hooten.
Strega Nona—Grandma Witch—is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical ever-full pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony, who is employed to look after her house and tend her garden. One day, when Strega Nona goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results.
Bryce, whose credits include Saving Private Ryan and Almost Famous, produces through his Ian Bryce Productions banner, and Aimee Blank will oversee for the producer.
Said Bryce: “The minute we read Strega Nona, Nona had us under her spell and we are incredibly excited to be bringing such a beloved book series to audiences and families around the world.”
Said dePaola, whose books have sold over 25 million copies, said he was “delighted that my beloved characters Strega Nona, and friends, will be brought to life on screen through the collaboration of Ian Bryce Productions and Lionsgate. I couldn’t be more grateful during this holiday season.”
The author is represented by Doug Whiteman of The Whiteman Agency and Hardy Howl is repped by Lit Entertainment, UTA and Morris/Yorn while Bryce is repped by UTA.