Capitol Films is teaming with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to produce “Five Children and It,” a family adventure pic based on Edith Nesbit’s classic 1902 novel.
Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Izzard and Freddie Highmore (Peter Pan in “J.M. Barrie’s Neverland”) will star in the $20 million movie, to be directed by Creature Shop topper John Stephenson.
It’s the story of five siblings who are sent to stay with their uncle (Branagh) in a strange house by the sea. While exploring, they dig up an ill-tempered 8,000-year-old Psammead, or sand fairy, voiced by Izzard, who grants them one wish a day. But the consequences are never quite what the children intend.
Pic, which starts shooting in July, will blend live action with animatronics and CGI. The setting will be considerably updated from the book’s original period, but it will not be explicitly contemporary. “Like ‘Harry Potter,’ it will have a modern feel that’s accessible to children today,” says Capitol’s Sharon Harel.
Script is by David Solomon, with Nick Hirschkorn and Lisa Henson producing.
The Isle of Man Film Commission will co-finance the project. The producers are also in discussions for coin from the U.K. Film Council’s Premiere Fund, which has already been involved in the development of the project.
Capitol has already struck pre-sales with Pathe in the U.K. and TriPictures in Spain.