Universal has acquired screen rights to “Cirque du Freak,” the bestselling children’s series by Darren Shan. Brian Helgeland is set to write, and Lauren Shuler Donner will produce.Shan has so far written a dozen books in the series, and Helgeland, who’ll exec produce, will use the first three books for the initial installment of what the studio hopes will be a trilogy of films. The book series revolves around a youth named Darren Shan who attends an illegal freak show. By the end, he has agreed to serve as a vampire’s assistant to save his best friend’s life. Harper Collins has sold over 8.3 million copies so far.