If you are anxiously awaiting World War Z 2, your wait may have just gotten a little bit longer. While Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona signed onto direct the sequel in December, he is first going to helm A Monster Calls for River Road Entertainment, Participant Media, Lionsgate International, and Focus Features.
Here is the official press release:
River Road Entertainment, Participant Media, Lionsgate International, and Focus Features have teamed to finance and distribute Apache's production of acclaimed filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona's next film, A Monster Calls, based on the award-winning children's fantasy novel by Patrick Ness (the Chaos Walking trilogy), the companies announced today. The film will be produced by Belén Atienza (The Impossible, Pan's Labyrinth, The Orphanage) and is slated 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 throughout the rest of the world.
Bayona won Spain's equivalent of the Academy Award, The Goya, for his last film, The Impossible, which was distributed by Lionsgate's Summit label and grossed more than $180 million at the worldwide box office. The Impossible is the second highest-grossing film of all time in Spain.
A Monster Calls is a visually spectacular drama about a young 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 that deal with courage, loss and faith. Ness wrote the novel based on an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd, and he and illustrator Jim Kay won Britain's prestigious Carnegie Medal and Greenaway Medal in 2012, presented to the year's best children's literature in the UK. Ness is adapting the screenplay from his novel. Executive Producers on the film 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.
Here's what Juan Antonio Bayona had to say in a statement.
"It is an incredible privilege to bring Patrick Ness' exceptional book to the screen and I couldn't have imagined better partners joining me in this endeavor. After The Orphanage and The Impossible, A Monster Calls is the perfect final chapter in a trilogy centered on the extraordinary strength of the mother-child bond."
Lionsgate co-chairman Patrick Wachsberger had this to say in his statement.
"We're pleased to join with our friends at Participant, River Road and Focus Features in financing and distributing this cherished and compelling property that has already earned a tremendous following in the world of children's literature. We're delighted to reunite with the creative forces behind our worldwide hit The Impossible, and there is nobody better suited to creating the fantastical world of A Monster Calls than the visionary filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona."
River Road Entertainment's Founder and CEO Bill Pohlad added the following statement.
"River Road has collaborated to great success with Participant, Lionsgate International and Focus Features on several films, and we look forward to uniting for this distinguished project, which is in line with our effort to support captivating storytelling and incredibly talented filmmakers, like Juan Antonio Bayona."
Participant's EVP of Production Jonathan King offered his own statement.
"All of us at Participant are thrilled to be in such good company for this deeply moving tale about the power of storytelling, which could not be more perfectly aligned with our mission."
Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel had this to say about working with the director.
"Juan Antonio Bayona is a filmmaker whose storytelling skills and stunning visuals are truly distinctive. He captures emotional truths amidst fantastical and terrifying situations, making him the ideal director to bring this acclaimed novel to a wide audience. I am pleased to make this our first co-production as CEO of Focus Features."
The deal was negotiated by Participant Media COO Jeff Ivers, River Road's Mitch Horwits, Lionsgate's Patrick Wachsberger, and Focus Features' Juan Antonio Bayona with CAA. Bayona is represented by CAA.