McKean to direct animated film 'Varjak'

The Jim Henson Company has optioned the SF Said fantasy novel “Varjak Paw” and will develop the property as an animated film.

Dave McKean, who illustrated the book and just directed the Henson pic “MirrorMask,” is attached to direct.

McKean and Said will write the script together. Deal also includes an option on the second book in the series, “The Outlaw Varjak Paw.”

First installment introduces a Mesopotamian blue kitten that tries to save its family and discovers he is part of a mystical tradition of magical martial arts.

The kung-fu kitty tale won the Nestle Book Prize Gold Medal in 2003, the year it was published by Random House.

Lisa Henson, co-CEO of Henson Co., will produce; Said and McKean will exec produce. Senior veep Jason Lust will shepherd development.

“Many of the book’s inspirations were cinematic, from old martial-arts movies to ‘The Matrix,’ and Varjak’s fans are always asking if there’ll be a film,” Said said. “Now we have a chance to make an amazing movie for them, and for everyone who hasn’t yet met the kung fu cat.”

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