EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures beat out four studios today to acquire a pitch for a new film version of the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel The Secret Garden that will be scripted by Oscar-nominated Beasts Of The Southern Wild co-writer Lucy Alibar. She will work closely with Guillermo del Toro, who’ll produce with Mark Johnson. Del Toro and Johnson are re-teaming after they produced the 2011 feature remake of the classic ABC telepic Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark.
There was a swirl of interest in the hope that del Toro could direct, but he’s so busy with his other projects–he opens the big global tent pole Pacific Rim this summer and is working on a sequel; he’s turning Pan’s Labyrinth into a stage musical; he next helms the haunted house pic Crimson Peak; and he’ll direct the pilot for an FX series adaptation of The Strain, the apocalyptic vampire novel he wrote with Chuck Hogan–that del Toro will guide Alibar creatively as producer. Both of them have had success with projects surrounding young people who build fantasy worlds as a way of dealing with loneliness, grief, loss and abandonment (del Toro with Pan’s Labyrinth). In both cases, the girls create mythic threatening beasts they are forced to outmaneuver or stare down.