Kiki delivering to Mouse House
“Kiki’s Delivery Service,” a Japanese series of books that was turned into a hit film by Oscar-winning animation helmer Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”), is becoming an English-language film at Walt Disney Pictures.Screenwriter Jeff Stockwell, who penned the partially animated “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys,” has been hired to write the new “Kiki” screenplay based on Eiko Kadano’s books. The first was published in English last year. Pic was the first big success for Miyazaki’s company, Studio Ghibli, in 1989. Merchandise based on the film is still popular worldwide, and the English-lingo DVD, with Kirsten Dunst providing the voice of Kiki, was released by Walt Disney’s homevid division in 1998. Story follows 13-year-old witch Kiki who moves to the city with her talking cat Jiji (voiced in the Disney DVD version by the late Phil Hartman) where she lands a job in the local bakery. But Kiki’s powers are not refined, and the adventures and scrapes she gets into show she has a lot of growing up to do. Scottish producer Susan Montford recently teamed with partner Don Murphy (“From Hell,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”) to secure the rights. The duo then reunited with Murphy’s “League” exec producer, Mark Gordon; all three will produce on “Kiki’s.” Buena Vista Motion Picture Group topper Nina Jacobson, who bought the project preemptively, will oversee it with theatrical production exec Jason Reed.