Universal to adapt Stephen King short story

Studio teams with Blumhouse on 'Mercy,' which Peter Cornwell will direct

Universal Pictures is teaming with Jason Blum’s red-hot Blumhouse Prods. banner on “Mercy,” a fantasy-horror movie based on Stephen King’s short story “Gramma,” published as part of his 1985 collection “Skeleton Crew.”

Peter Cornwell (“The Haunting in Connecticut”) will direct from a script by Matt Greenberg (“1408”), and Frances O’Connor (“A.I.”) is set to star.

Story follows two young boys who go with their single mother (O’Connor) to take care of their elderly, senile grandmother named Mercy, only to discover that she’s a witch who made a pact with a dark force many years before.

Blum, who had two horror pics among the top 10 at the box office last weekend in “Paranormal Activity 4” and “Sinister,” will produce the movie with McG and Mary Viola of Wonderland Sound and Vision.

In June 2011 Blum and his company signed a three-year, first-look deal with Universal to bring low-budget genre pics to the studio.

King’s story was previously adapted as an episode of “The New Twilight Zone” in 1986, with Harlan Ellison writing the script and “Carrie” star Piper Laurie providing some of the voiceover for the character of Gramma/Mercy.

Cornwell’s 2009 horror pic “Haunting in Connecticut” grossed $77 million worldwide and launched a Gold Circle Films franchise that also includes “The Haunting in Georgia” and planned sequel “The Haunting in New York.” He’s repped by ICM Partners, Gotham Group and Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson.

Greenberg, who wrote “Halloween H20,” the King adaptation “1408” and Paramount’s upcoming “Pet Sematary” remake, is repped by UTA, Magnolia Entertainment and attorney Jason Sloane.

O’Connor, who starred in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” and ABC’s “Cashmere Mafia,” was recently seen opposite Willem Dafoe in “The Hunter.” She’ll soon be seen in Billy Bob Thornton’s pic “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” and Francesca Gregorini’s indie drama “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes.” She’s repped by the Gersh Agency and manager Rob Marsala of Wishlab.

CAA reps Blum, while McG is repped by WME, Management 360 and attorney David Weber. Paradigm reps King.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 4127_D022_00003_RC(l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Dominating 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo' With $31 Million Opening

    “Downton Abbey” is heading for a positively brilliant opening weekend after scoring $13.8 million in domestic ticket sales on Friday. If estimates hold, the feature film version of the popular British television show should take home approximately $31 million come Sunday, marking the biggest opening ever for distributor Focus Features and beating previous record holder [...]

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

  • Lucy-Lost

    Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

    TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number. Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content