Disney Wins Bidding War for Adventure Film From ‘Lego Batman’ Writer

writer John Whittington, producer John Davis
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images; Getty Images
John Whittington, known for his work on 'The Lego Batman Movie,' will write the script.

In rare venture into the world of competitive spec projects, Disney has come out on top of a bidding war to pick an untitled high concept pitch from John Whittington, the scribe known for his work on several Lego feature films.

Veteran producer John Davis, whose recent credits include Dolemite is My Name and Game Night, is producing with his Davis Entertainment partner, John Fox.

Details are being kept in the vault but it is known that the high concept story is set in the world of movies. Disney elbowed out Warner Bros to capture the project, which will be live action and intended for theatrical release.

Disney isn’t known for being in the game for spec projects, as the studio has for the last decade made its priority on branded IP and remakes and sequels to its vast library. Most producers and lit agents had come to know to bypass the studio when it was sending out material into competitive waters. But this is a case of having its cake and eating it too as this original project may allow the studio to also dig deep in its warehouse of movies.

Projects using a studio’s history are picking up steam.  In July, Universal picked up Little Monsters, a live-action hybrid feature with Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley attached to direct, a project that will reference the studio’s long-standing history of monster movies. And Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, while not a love letter to movies, was able to reference movies from Warner Bros., the maker of the movie, as well as classic Spielberg titles.

Whittington is known for his work on The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie. He is also writing DC Super Pets, an animated take on the DC animals. He is repped by Verve, MXN Entertainment and McKuin Frankel.