Helmer returning to 'Neverending' theme with fantasy

Warner Bros. and director Wolfgang Petersen have set scribes Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty to adapt the Orson Scott Card books “Ender’s Game” and “Ender’s Shadow” into a film Petersen will direct.

Petersen sparked to the bestselling books because he wanted to make a young adult fantasy — terrain he hasn’t covered since “The Neverending Story.” The Hugo Award-winning book series begins on Earth after an alien attack. Gifted children are recruited for war, with a prodigy leading the assault against aliens.

Card resisted offers to sell the books until last year, when he signed the WB deal not only for a potential film franchise but also potential computer and videogames with the Warners Consumer Products division.

Petersen is producing with Robert Chartoff, Diana Rathbun and Ted Ravinett. Sam Dickerman is exec producer. WB’s Jeff Clifford and David Beaubaire are steering the pic.

As Petersen preps “Troy,” he hasn’t locked his next movie. He’s still sweet on “Batman vs. Superman” and is also developing “Shutter Island,” the recent bestseller by “Mystic River” author Dennis Lehane.

Harris and Dougherty scored with the “X-Men” sequel. They shared credit with original writer David Hayter. The duo will team with “X-Men” director Bryan Singer to create a year’s worth of “Ultimate X-Men” comics for Marvel and then will likely move to the third “X-Men” film at 20th Century Fox. First, Harris and Dougherty will tackle “Ender’s Game,” which, to Harris in particular, is much more than just a pricey assignment.

“My parents gave me the book when I was a kid, and it is the reason I fell in love with science fiction and is somewhat responsible for what I am doing for a career,” Harris said. “It taught me how to create great characters within an outer space world. There are real wars and battles here, so it’s not a kid movie, but what makes the story beautiful is that this adult world is seen through a kid’s eyes. I’d always wondered why it had never been made into a movie.”

The WMA-repped team also scripted “Charlie Chan” into a Lucy Liu vehicle. Harris also scripted and just directed “Imaginary Heroes,” a drama that stars Sigourney Weaver, and Dougherty is adapting the cult horror comic “Wake the Dead” for Dimension Films.

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