The award-winning director of 2012’s The Impossible will helm a film adaptation of A Monster Calls – the children’s fantasy novel published in 2011, written by Patrick Ness from an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd.
The book, which won Carnegie and Greenaway medals for writing and illustration, tells the story of a young boy who is dealing with both his mother’s terminal cancer and the bullying he experiences at the hands of his peers. Suffering recurring nightmares as a result of the stress and trauma, he is repeatedly visited by a monster at the same time every night, who appears outside his bedroom window as a terrifying amalgam of tree branches and roots in human-like form. The monster negotiates a pact with the boy based upon an exchange of stories, resulting in escalating, dire consequences.
Participant Media and River Road Entertainment will co-finance the project, with Lionsgate International and Focus Features committed to the distribution of the finished film. In a press release announcing the production, Bayona explained:
“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 endeavour. After The Orphanage and The Impossible, A Monster Calls is the perfect final chapter in a trilogy centred on the extraordinary strength of the mother-child bond.”
Echoing his excitement, Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel said:
“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.”
A Monster Calls is currently slated for release late in 2016. We’ll keep you posted when we hear more.