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“The NeverEnding Story” might keep going.
Warner Bros. and a pair of top-tier production banners are in the early stages of a reboot of the 1980s children’s fantasy classic.
The Kennedy/Marshall Co. (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and Leonard DiCaprio’s shingle Appian Way are in discussions with Warners about reviving the 25-year-old franchise with a modern spin. The studio recently acquired rights to the property, clearing the way for a potential remake.
Born out of a German-language novel by Michael Ende, the film centers on a boy named Bastian Balthazar Bux who discovers a parallel world in a book titled “The NeverEnding Story.” As the boy, a loner, delves deeper into the book, he increasingly finds his life intertwined with the plot of the novel, in which a hero in the land of Fantasia must save the universe on behalf of an empress.
The new pic — which original producer Dieter Geissler also will produce and Sarah Schechter and Jesse Ehrman will oversee for Warners — will examine the more nuanced details of the book that were glossed over in the first pic.
Wolfgang Petersen directed and Neue Constantin produced the original for Warners, which earned a respectable $20 million when it was released in 1984. The film has had a long life on home video and an even larger influence on popular culture, prefiguring Harry Potter and other present-day children’s fantasies.
A sequel directed by George Miller came out in 1990 and earned $17 million; a third movie followed in the U.S. in 1996 but quickly went to video.
Those familiar with the project emphasize that it is in its early stages and that writers have not been attached.
Still, the interest highlights the frenzy among big entertainment players to develop revivals or sequels of dormant ’80s and ’90s franchises, which has reached fever pitch with the success of reboots like “Friday the 13th” and the fast-track development of a new version of “Robocop.”
“NeverEnding” came out long before the fantasy genre was seen as a springboard for a Hollywood blockbuster — the movie’s cast, anchored by Barret Oliver and Noah Hathaway, wasn’t composed of superstars — but Warners is said to see an opportunity in the first-generation children’s fantasy. The studio has had success under the current regime producing and releasing the Harry Potter series, which has earned more than $4.5 billion worldwide during the course of its first five pictures.
Appian also is developing another remake of an ’80s fantasy, a live-action version of the 1988 anime tale “Akira.” Kennedy/Marshall, known for more adult pictures, also has produced youth-oriented fare, including 2006’s environmental tale “Hoot.”
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