Walden to Co-Finance Steven Spielberg’s ‘BFG’ With DreamWorks

Walden Media will co-finance and co-produce DreamWorks Studios’ “The BFG” with Steven Spielberg starting the shoot later this month.

Mark Rylance was cast in October as the titular benevolent giant in “The BFG,” an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel. Newcomer Ruby Barnhill has been cast as the co-star Sophie.

Published in 1982, “The BFG” — short for Big Friendly Giant — tells the tale of a young girl, the Queen of England and the BFG, who set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

The movie will open in U.S. theaters on July 1, 2016.

DreamWorks acquired movie rights to the book in 2010 after Kathleen Kennedy brought it to the company. Melissa Mathison, who teamed with Spielberg and Kennedy on “E.T.,” wrote the screenplay.

Producers are Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer. Kennedy, John Madden and Michael Siegel are exec producing. Kristie Macosko Krieger and Adam Somner are co-producers.

Disney is distributing the film in the U.S. and select international territories, while Mister Smith Entertainment is overseeing distribution in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. DreamWorks’ partner Reliance will distribute the film in India.

“Walden is delighted to be involved with DreamWorks in bringing this imaginative and timeless Roald Dahl classic to the big screen,” said Frank Smith of Walden. “I cannot think of a more perfect director than Steven Spielberg to capture the magic and to tell this story.”

Dahl’s books include “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Matilda” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox”  and have sold over 200 million copies worldwide.

Walden, which is controlled by Philip Anschutz, specializes in backing family-friendly fare including  “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, the “Journey to the Center of the Earth” series, “Nim’s Island,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Bridge to Terabithia,” “Holes,” “Amazing Grace” and the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”

Walden Media most recently released “The Giver,” starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush and Taylor Swift. It is in post-production on Universal’s adventure/thriller “Everest” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, Keira Knightley, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Emily Watson and Robin Wright.

Walden is also financing and producing a feature film adaptation of Alice Ozma’s memoir “The Reading Promise” in collaboration with Relativity Media.

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