As Ron Howard‘s new documentary Pavarotti is making its world tour, the man with the 60+ year career has announced a first: he will direct an animated film. It will be one of four new films set up at Howard and Brian Grazer‘s Imagine Entertainment banner.
Per Variety, the film is an adaptation of bestselling children’s book author Florence Parry Heide and acclaimed illustrator Edward Gorey‘s 1971 story, The Shrinking Of Treehorn. The story revolves around the title character, a boy whose parents hardly notice when he begins to shrink.
Rob Lieber (Peter Rabbit) has written the script, and the plan is for the animation and visual style to match Gorey’s illustrations. Although the film is being set up at Imagine, Paramount will distribute it.
Howard has helmed a variety of projects in his directorial career, but this will probably be his most unique film. He’s usually adept at making true-life drama (Apollo 13, Rush, Frost/Nixon) or sometimes Hollywood thrillers such as The Da Vinci Code. Perhaps coming off the poorly received Inferno and the lukewarm reception he got for Solo: A Star Wars Story encouraged him to try something different.
The story of The Shrinking Of Treehorn certainly has some cinematic potential, and it’s good to hear that the animation is looking to match the original material as closely as possible. Hopefully this is the bounce-back project Howard needs. Here are details on the other three films being developed at Imagine:
Another animated film, Rainbow Serpent, based on Australian aboriginal culture and their creation mythology is in the works. Stuart Beattie (GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra) is writing the script, and Paramount Animation is in charge of the project.
Director Carlos Stevens and writers Jonathon Stewart and Eyal Podell are developing buddy comedy Zero, which “explores the connection between family and technology”. It’s described as similar to Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out, and is being set up at Warner Bros.
The final film is Muttnik, a live-action hybrid that will explore a story about a space-time continuum-traveling dog, launched into space by the Russians only to return home as an evolved creature. It’s unclear who’s involved on the creative side of that one, and no distributor has been announced yet.