Oscar-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes (American Beauty), whose most recent projects were the back-to-back James Bond blockbusters Skyfall and Spectre, may be moving into completely different terrain an upcoming project. Deadline broke the exclusive that Mendes may be eyeing to develop and direct an upcoming live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic James and the Giant Peach for Disney. While this appears to be in the earliest of stages, the project is definitely in line with the live-action reboots currently taking over the Mouse Hunt, while also a complete left-turn for Mendes, not known for family-friendly spectacles.
Dahl’s beloved children’s book centers around an orphan named James, who lives with his two mean aunts. He befriends human-like bugs who live inside a giant peach and takes part in an adventure. Henry Selick, stop-motion wizard behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and Oscar-nominated Coraline, directed an animated take on the story for Disney back in 1996 to critical admiration and a modest box office take of $28 million. The new take for James and the Giant Peach, reportedly, also has Nick Hornby (acclaimed novelist and 2-time Oscar nominated screenwriter of Brooklyn and An Education) tapped to pen the screenplay.
Curiously, Disney tried (unsuccessfully) to revive Dahl’s The BFG this past summer, which even despite a healthy reception at the Cannes Film Festival and Steven Spielberg’s contribution as director, couldn’t eke out more than $54 million. Still, there’s a pattern underway at Disney with live-action reboots in the works for various titles including Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. There’s currently no production schedule or planned release date established yet for James and the Giant Peach.
Currently, Mendes is also planning to direct an adaptation of The Voyeur’s Motel from Guy Talese’s novel – a definitely un-family-friendly film. We will stay tuned to the latest involving the development of James and the Giant Peach.