'Overworld' based on best-selling books

Italy’s Colorado Film is developing “Chronicles of the Overworld,” a live-action 3D trilogy based on a bestselling series of books translated into 14 languages, in one of the most ambitious attempts to launch a European fantasy franchise.

The first English-language installment of “Overworld” is planned for a budget of E30 million ($37 million). Pic would be mounted as a major European co-production, though Colorado’s incoming managing director Alessandro Usai said he will be pitching the project to Hollywood studios.

Usai, formerly topper of Mikado, described the books penned by Italo astrophysicist Licia Troisi as ” ‘Lord of the Rings’ meets ‘Narnia’ with a ‘Twilight’ twist.”

They turn on a central character called Nihal, the sole survivor of an entire race, and “the only one in the world with blue hair and pointed ears,” and her simmering hatred for a tyrant who obliterated her people.

The “Overworld” books, which are said to have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, are published in Italy by Mondadori and by other imprints across continental Europe and in China, with negotiations currently under way for publication in English-language countries.

Milan-based Colorado, which is founded and headed by Maurizio Totti, is best known internationally for having produced a slew of pics by Italo Oscar winner Gabriele Salvatores, but is now looking to expand its horizons, Usai said.

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