Mendel’s onboard for ‘Inkheart’

Lensing will start in November in Italy

New Line has signed Barry Mendel to produce “Inkheart,” an adaptation of the first in Cornelia Funke’s kidlit fantasy trilogy that will go into production in London this fall.

Lensing will start first in November in Italy and then head to Shepperton, where “The Golden Compass,” which like “Inkheart” is another tyke tome series that New Line hopes will develop into a continuing franchise for the studio, is already in production.

Funke is also producing “Inkheart,” with Diana Pokorny exec producing.

Mendel is adding “Inkheart” to a producing slate that includes the John O’Hara adaptation “Appointment in Samarra,” which Lakeshore plans to put into production next year. Other projects he’s developing include cult TV adaptation “The Prisoner,” which Chris Nolan is attached to direct, with Scott Stuber at Universal; Alex Garland’s “Time Keeper” at Working Title and U; and Fernando Mierelles’ “Pompeii,” also at U.

Past producing credits for Mendel include “Munich,” “The Life Aquatic,” and “The Sixth Sense.”

“Inkheart” stars Brendan Fraser as a father who can bring characters from books to life by reading stories aloud to his daughter. When the father is kidnapped by some of the fantasy villains in the bedtime tales, his daughter and her friends try to free him.

Others cast include Paul Bettany and Jim Broadbent.

Iain Softley is directing from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, who already has been commissioned to adapt the second tome in Funke’s series, “Inkspell.” The final tome in the trilogy, “Inkdawn,” will be published next year by U.K. imprint Chicken House, which has a deal with Scholastic in the U.S.

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