'Toy Story 4' Director Josh Cooley Tackling 'Little Monsters' for Universal (Exclusive)

Bride of Frankenstein - Josh Cooley - Photofest -Getty - Inset - H 2020
Universal Pictures/Photofest; Inset; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
The movie will take an all-ages approach to studio's classic monster characters.

Universal’s monsters movie projects are hitting the next generation.

Josh Cooley, who helmed the Oscar-winning Toy Story 4, is set to write and direct Little Monsters, a live-action hybrid monster feature that will be produced by Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman of Mandeville Films.

The project is based on the artistic outlines and character designs of concept artist Crash McCreery, who has worked on such movies as Jurassic World, Kong: Skull Island and Rango, and also takes cues from the studio’s rich nearly-100-year history of monster movies. McCreery will executive produce.

Little Monsters’ logline is being kept caged, but sources have described it as a love letter to classic Hollywood and the history of filmmaking with a story that takes a multigenerational approach to the monsters.

Developing the studio’s monsters movie legacy, which famously includes indelible takes on Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, is one of the top priorities for the studio. It is basking in the afterglow of the success, both financial and critical, from a modern retelling of The Invisible Man, which was released earlier this year. Leigh Whannell, the writer and director of the movie, is now working on a sequel as well as tackling a new Wolfman re-imagining that will star Ryan Gosling.

The Little Monsters development shows the depth and elasticity of the characters that seemingly can be reimagined in myriad ways, from more bloody, R-rated angles to, as in this case, more family-friendly and all-ages fare.

And there are few better at all-ages than Cooley, who directed Pixar’s Toy Story 4, defying the franchise-fatigue odds to make a movie that collected more than $1 billion at the box office and the best animated feature Oscar in February.

Cooley spent 17 years at Pixar, working as a storyboard artist on such movies as The Incredibles and Cars, and acting as a writer on 2015’s Inside Out. He struck out on his own in March, becoming a hot commodity. In short order, he lined up the highly sought-after directing gig of Paramount and Hasbro’s inaugural Transformers theatrical animated movie and nabbed the gig to write and make his live-action directorial debut with Malamander, an adaptation of the best-selling children’s book by Thomas Taylor set up at Sony Pictures. Little Monsters becomes his third big project. Cooley is repped by CAA, Grandview and Jackoway Austen.

Mandeville's recent credits include the period drama The Aeronauts, the sleeper hit Wonder and Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast.