Speaking at a New York Comic Con panel over the weekend, producers Connor Cochran and Lauren Sands announced that they hope to acquire the live-action film rights to Peter Beagle’s novel The Last Unicorn when said rights could go back on the market in February 2015. The rights currently belong to German director Michael Pakleppa, who must start principle photography on a live-action adaptation by February 1st of next year in order to hold on to the rights.
The Last Unicorn was published in 1968 and has since sold over five million copies in over 20 languages. The novel is told from the perspective of the last free unicorn as she travels across the land in search of the rest of her kind. On her journey she encounters a circus of mythical creatures, a crew of bandits, and the Red Bull – the reason for the vanishing unicorns. The novel was adapted into an animated film released in 1982 directed by Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass and written by Beagle. The film had a mixed reception from critics but maintains a devoted fanbase. Cochran and Sands say that they hope Beagle will also write the screenplay for their potential film and are already in talks with “four or five other directors.” Beagle in turn has said that he would like Christopher Lee to reprise his role as King Haggard from the 1982 animated film. That film also featured the voices of Alan Arkin, Tammy Grimes, Jeff Bridges, and starred Mia Farrow as the unicorn.
As confident as Cochran and Sands sound, all their preparation will mean nothing if Pakleppa manages to hold on to the rights. We will find out more next February.