Further Films visits the 'Castle'

Adapting Shirley Jackson's book about a peculiar family

Michael Douglas' Further Films is moving into Shirley Jackson's castle.

The company is developing the novel "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," Jackson's 1962 tome about a reclusive, potentially murderous family.

Further will produce the project with Literal Media, the firm that reps Jackson's work and a company in which Further has a stake. Laurence Hyman, Jackson's son and literary executor, also will have a produce role.

The WME-repped Mark Kruger has penned a draft of the screenplay. Kruger most notably was a producer-writer on "The 4400," the supernatural series that aired from 2004-07 on the USA Network. Producers are out to cast.

"Castle" revolves around the Blackwood family -- primarily of sisters Merricat and Connie and their uncle Julian -- who have been forced into seclusion after the mysterious lethal poisoning of several of their family members six years earlier. Merricat is the younger sister, caring for the agoraphobic Connie, while the ailing Julian increasingly is in the grip of his own obsessions.

The plot is further complicated by the arrival of a dubious, long-lost cousin who seeks to secure the family's fortune.

"Castle" has never had a big-screen treatment but was adapted for a short-lived Broadway run in the 1960s. Those familiar with the feature take say it will combine literary and genre elements in what producers hope will transcend the more high-concept commercial horror stories that studios and their labels are making.

Horror gurus like Stephen King have cited Jackson as a prime influence on their work. The author, who died in 1965, probably is best known for her short story "The Lottery," a 1948 tale originally published by the New Yorker. That story tells of a secret ritual stoning in a small American town. Initially controversial, it has become a staple in U.S. classrooms.

Several of Jackson's novels have been made into films, including the Elizabeth Parker-toplined "Lizzie," the 1957 split-personality thriller based on Jackson's novel "The Bird's Nest," and "The Haunting," a 1963 Robert Wise pic based on the gothic tale "The Haunting of Hill House." In 1999, DreamWorks turned that novel into a Liam Neeson-Catherine Zeta-Jones starrer, also titled "The Haunting." The film went on to earn $180 million worldwide.

Further is developing the art-heist pic "Art Con" as well as "Racing the Monsoon," another sequel to Douglas' hit 1984 actioner "Romancing the Stone." Douglas made his name in part as a producer with critically acclaimed hits like the Oscar-winning "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." In the past few years, Further has produced Fox's government thriller "The Sentinel" and Warner Bros.' remake of "The In-Laws."
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