Jason Reitman to Direct, Write ‘Beekle’ for DreamWorks Animation

Jason Reitman, the director of such decidedly grown up fare as “Thank You for Smoking” and “Juno,” will get in touch with his inner child as the writer and director of “Beekle.”

The adaptation of award-winning children’s book “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” brings the Oscar-nominated filmmaker into the DreamWorks Animation fold. It also marks the first project put into development under newly appointed co-presidents of feature animation Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria, giving an indication of the creative direction they hope to take at the studio.

DreamWorks Animation scored a surprise hit with last spring’s “Home,” but the studio has struggled in recent months following failed sales to SoftBank and Hasbro, as well as a series of film flops. The studio is trying to get costs under control following a series of layoffs and the sale of its Glendale, Calif., campus. It won’t release another picture until “Kung Fu Panda 3″ debuts in January.

“Beekle” centers on an oddball imaginary friend who takes off on magical journey. It marks the first foray into animation for Reitman, whose work includes “Young Adult” and “Up in the Air.” Despite his early successes, Reitman’s most recent efforts, “Labor Day,” and “Men, Women & Children,” failed to connect with critics or audiences.

DreamWorks Animation development executive Damon Ross brought the project to the studio, and he will oversee the production along with Gregg Taylor, head of development.

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