Universal, Mandeville Films Team for YA Fantasy 'Scholomance'

Cover for A Deadly Education and Naomi Novik Split-Del Ray Books Publicity.H 2020
Courtesy of Del Ray Books
Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman of Mandeville will produce the adaptation of the upcoming book series from Naomi Novik, the award-winning author of the dragon-centric 'Temeraire' books.

In a competitive situation, Universal Pictures has picked up the film rights to Scholomance, an upcoming fantasy book series from Naomi Novik, the award-winning author behind the Temeraire book series.

Mandeville Films' Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman, whose recent credits include Beauty and the Beast, Wonder and The Aeronauts, will produce the feature translation, which will kick off with the adaptation of the first novel, A Deadly Education. Random House is publishing the title this fall.

The book centers on a heroine named El Higgins, a girl with unmatched power who enters a school for the magically gifted, where failure means certain death. And while many hope and fear she will succumb to the dark side of her power, she has plans of her own.

The logline is as follows: Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: You graduate or you die. El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions — never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school. Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it... that is, unless she has no other choice.

Senior vp production Jeyun Munford and creative executive Christine Sun will oversee the project on behalf of Universal. Carly Kleinbart will oversee the project for Mandeville.

Novik found success writing the alternate-history dragon fantasy series known as Temeraire, which launched with His Majesty’s Dragon and earned a Hugo Award nomination. At one point, Lord of the Rings filmmaker Peter Jackson had optioned the rights and was developing an adaptation.

Novik has won several awards, including a Nebula, for her 2015 folk fantasy Uprooted. Her 2018 fantasy, Spinning Silver, also garnered acclaim.

Novik is repped by APA, Cynthia Manson at Cynthia Manson Literary Agency and Matt Sugarman at Weintraub Tobin.