Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona has come on board fantasy-actioner “A Monster Calls” with River Road, Participant Media, Focus Features and Lionsgate teaming to finance and distribute.

The film will be produced by Belen Atienza, who teamed with Bayona on “The Impossible” and “The Orphanage,” and is planned for a fall 2016 release. It will be distributed by Focus Features domestically, Universal Pictures International for its theatrical and home entertainment release in Spain and Lionsgate International in the rest of the world.

“A Monster Calls,” based on the book by Patrick Ness, centers on a boy who attempts to deal with his mother’s illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales. Ness wrote the novel based on an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd and his  adapted screenplay made the Black List of best unproduced screenplays in December.

Exec producers are River Road’s Bill Pohlad and Mitch Horwits, Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King, and Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairman Patrick Wachsberger.

Bayona signed in December to direct a “World War Z” sequel for Paramount.

The deal for “Monster” was negotiated by Participant Media’s Jeff Ivers, River Road’s Mitch Horwits, Lionsgate’s Patrick Wachsberger, and Focus Features’ Peter Schlessel with CAA. Bayona is represented by CAA.