Del Toro, Cuaron brewing 'Witches' pic

CANNES — Guillermo del Toro, whose “Pan’s Labyrinth” plays in competition May 27, is teaming with fellow Mexican helmer Alfonso Cuaron on an English-lingo adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1973 book “The Witches” for Warner Bros.

Cuaron inked a three-year, first-look production deal with Warners in 2004.

Del Toro is set to direct from his screenplay; Cuaron, who contributed a seg to today’s Un Certain Regard opener “Paris, Je t’aime,” will produce through his New York-based shingle Esperanto.

The teaming of Del Toro and Cuaron, two of Mexico’s leading filmmakers, forms part of a far larger, longterm friendship, said Cuaron.

“I wouldn’t do anything without showing it to Guillermo and I think that’s vice-versa,” said Cuaron, “and the same with Alejandro” Gonzalez Inarritu, Mexico’s other leading filmmaking talent.

“James and the Giant Peach” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” were both based on Dahl stories.

Del Toro said his “Witches” adaptation would be “quite smaller but most likely very much designed,” said Del Toro, alluding to the eye-popping look of the previous pics. Hehas written 70-plus of what he expects will be a 100-page screenplay.

Brit helmer Nicolas Roeg made a bigscreen adaptation of “The Witches” in 1989.

For Del Toro, “The Roeg film is a brilliant movie but certain aspects are a departure from Dahl’s original.

“Dahl had the brilliance of writing children’s stories which shocked adults,” said Del Toro.

Del Toro has not determined the start of principal photography, but then, he has a lot of balls in the air.

Futuristic thriller “Killing on Carnival Row” is set up at New Line, with Arnold and Anne Kopleson producing through Kopelson Entertainment. A screenplay has been delivered, said Del Toro, but with no budget nor cast, project has still to be greenlit. Other majors are reviewing “Hellboy II,” which was at Revolution Studios, as Sony has bowed out.

For his part, Cuaron said he was “totally immersed” in post on “Children of Men,” toplining Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine. Cuaron has “a pair of projects” at WB, and “Mexico ’68,” about a Mexican student massacre in 1968, set up at Anhelo Producciones, a shingle he formed with Guadalajara-based producer Jorge Vergara.

“I think I might gravitate towards a non-studio project,” he said.

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