Matt Sobel to Helm Focus Features'
Courtesy of Scholastic

Newcomer Matt Sobel has been set to direct Focus Features’ adaptation of the classic novel “The Scorpio Races,” sources confirm to Variety.

Jack Thorne is adapting Maggie Stiefvater’s YA novel, which was published in 2011 by Scholastic.

Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg are producing via their KatzSmith Productions banner while Jay Ireland is executive producing the pic.

The story takes place on the fictional island of Thisby, where an idealistic young racer and a legendary horse trainer prepare for the annual Scorpio Race, an event where blood-lusting “water horses” and their jockeys race for a grand prize at lethal costs.

Sobel made an impression at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with his drama “Take Me to the River” delivering rave reviews that caught the eye of studio execs. This will mark his first film at a major studio, and there’s a lot riding on the project, given the continued drawing power of YA novels like “The Maze Runner” and “Hunger Games” book series.

Sobel’s other credits include “Oyster” and “X to Y.” Sobel, Grahame-Smith and Katzenberg are repped by WME. Sobel is also repped by Cinetic Management.

Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.

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