EXCLUSIVE: Fulwell 73 has secured the rights to turn Helen Cresswell’s young adult novel Moondial into an ambitious time travel drama after the book inspired a popular BBC series of the same name in 1988.
The James Corden-backed company will team with Matt Lopez, who wrote Nicolas Cage starrer The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Dwayne Johnson’s Race To Witch Mountain, to reimagine the book, which follows a teenage girl as she discovers a portal through time while wandering the grounds of a nearby mansion.
Also partnering on the project is wiip, the indie studio run by former BBC and ABC executive Paul Lee. Executive producers are Lopez; Leo Pearlman, Jeff Grosvenor and Heather Greenwood for Fulwell 73; and Lee and Nne Ebong for wiip.
Fulwell 73 partner Pearlman said the BBC drama was a big inspiration for the series, with Greenwood being a “fan of all things BBC YA” from the 1980s. “Moondial is an incredibly uplifting and important story, which illustrates the importance of valuing people for who they are, not what they look like or where they come from, a message ever more pertinent given the world we’re all now living in,” he said.
Pearlman told Deadline it is a “tale of acceptance through the ages,” which has taken on new resonance in recent months. “It felt relevant and important nine months ago, but with the recent murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, it became ever more prescient,” he said.
Pearlman added that the coronavirus crisis had made it easier to secure a writer of Lopez’s caliber. “One of the upticks of the pandemic is some great writers — really amazing showrunners — who would otherwise have been un-gettable, suddenly find themselves with not much else to do,” he explained.
Lopez said: “Like the best genre stories, Helen Cresswell’s Moondial uses fantasy and the supernatural to reveal something deep, eternal and true about human beings and how we relate to each other. It’s a time travel story whose themes are quite literally timeless.”
Lopez is repped by LIT Entertainment Group and attorney Melissa Rogal. Matthew Dench and Julia Churchill of Dench Arnold negotiated the deal on behalf of the Helen Cresswell estate with wiip and Fulwell73.
Cresswell adapted her own book for the 1988 BBC TV series, and was well known for her other work, including kids’ classic The Demon Headmaster. The prolific children’s writer died in 2005 at the age of 71.