Mark Johnson to produce Moody adaptation

Universal Pictures has acquired “Hater,” David Moody’s 2006 novel. The adaptation will be produced by Mark Johnson and Guillermo del Toro.

The thriller is about an epidemic of random violence in which ordinary people strike lethally without warning or remorse. Book will be adapted for the screen by Glen Mazzara (FX’s “The Shield”).

“What I loved about ‘Hater’ is it recognizes the reality that we live in, where it is incredibly easy to polarize, to hate for gender, race, age,” del Toro told Daily Variety.

Pic will be developed under the first-look deal that del Toro made at U when the studio committed to “Hellboy 2.”

“Hater” was first optioned by Johnson, who originally approached del Toro to direct. But del Toro since committed to helming “The Hobbit,” which will keep him in New Zealand for the next four years.

“I’ll carry my weight on the creative side, in choosing elements and storyboarding, but it will be up to Mark and the director we choose to execute the day to day,” he said. “The Hobbit” is a “monumental task, and I don’t want to do anything that detracts from my attention to that.”

Pre-production is about to get under way on the two-part “Hobbit.” Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens are expected to pen the scripts under the direction of Peter Jackson and del Toro. Preliminary contact has already been made with at least three actors whose “Lord of the Rings” characters also appear in the “Hobbit” storyline: Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn), Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Andy Serkis (Gollum).

“We will all be involved in the script in some fashion but the exact definition is about a week away, ” said del Toro. “I am all for keeping the actors who originated the parts, as much as availability and their willingness will allow.”

Among the other projects del Toro has in development under his U deal are more “Hellboy” films and his scripted adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” about Antarctic explorers who encounter terror in the tundra.

“I think we need to re-create the tentpole studio horror film,” del Toro said.

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