Gary Ross, coming off of the success of “The Hunger Games,” was in one of the most enviable positions in Hollywood.
After all, there’s no sweeter moment than when you’ve just had a tremendous commercial hit and you’re able to take your time and pick your follow-up from a huge selection of possible projects. Ross was already an A-list filmmaker, so the success didn’t radically change things for him, but it did put whatever choice he made under a much brighter spotlight.
Disney purchased the rights to the Peter Pan novels by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson several years ago, and it was previously announced that writer Jesse Wigutow was working to adapt it as a film. Now it appears that Ross has picked this as his next film, and that he will roll camera on it sometime next year.
I will point out that the logline description for the film starts with one of the phrases I hate most right now, “A prequel to [insert name of beloved property here],” and for that reason alone, I am automatically suspicious of the picture. It disturbs me how often we hear that phrase at this point, and it disturbs me more when you consider how few of those films actually work at all.
I also get worried when studios decide to go head to head with similar properties, and this is now in direct competition with “Neverland,” another Peter Pan themed film that’s set up at Sony. That one will be directed by Gavin O’Connor, newly hot after “Warrior” was released last year.
I’m sure Disney is hoping to turn this into a franchise. When they first purchased the book back in 2005, it was still a single title. Now there are five books in the series, and there’s also been a musical adaptation which opened earlier this year on Broadway. It seems to have an active and engaged fanbase at this point, which would seem to give it the edge over the Sony version for now.
At the start of the book “Peter and the Starcatchers,” Peter is just an orphan boy, and the first story tells how he learned to fly, how he came to be in Neverland, and how he met Tinker Bell. Starcatchers are the ones who are responsible for gathering “starstuff,” the source of magic in the stories. There’s a large ongoing supporting cast in the series as well, and it seems like there’s plenty of material here for Disney to make sequels if the first film works, and I’m sure that’s at least part of the reason they hired Ross to kick things off.
Right now, this is still early days, but as this moves forward, we’ll have more for you on the film.