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Dean DeBlois, the filmmaker behind the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, has signed a first-look deal with Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation.
The pact, with DeBlois’ recently formed banner Anvil Pictures, covers live-action and hybrid projects through Universal and an exclusive deal for animated fare with DreamWorks, the companies announced Tuesday.
The deal already comes with some development. DeBlois is working on a live-action/hybrid project titled Storybook Ending, based on an original story by himself and Bill Teitler, a producer on Zathura and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. DeBlois will write and direct, as well as produce with Teitler. DeBlois is also working on an adaptation of Treasure Island, already set up at Universal.
“Dean is an amazing storyteller, who created visually stunning worlds and heart-warming adventures with his brilliant How to Train Your Dragon series, and we are confident that our partnership will continue to yield memorable results in the live action space as well,” Universal Pictures president Peter Cramer said in a statement.
“For over ten years, Dean has been an integral part of the fabric of DreamWorks,” added DWA president Margie Cohn. “His gift for emotional and timeless storytelling is unparalleled and we can’t wait to collaborate with him on future films.”
“Working on the final installment of the Dragon trilogy these past few years with [Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman] Donna [Langley], Peter and their teams at Universal, I have seen first-hand the attention and passion they give to all of their films,” said DeBlois. “Along with my continued collaboration with Margie and DreamWorks Animation, I’m thrilled to be embarking on this partnership with Universal to create new and exciting live-action and hybrid projects.”
Over the last 10 years, DeBlois steered the Dragon trilogy into a $1.6 billion franchise that also counts two (so far) Oscar nominations, as well as an animated series and merchandising. (He co-directed the first movie with Chris Sanders and took the reins alone on the next two installments.) The franchise is considered the high water mark from DreamWorks.
DeBlois is also developing a live-action take on Micronauts for Paramount, but his new deal does keep most of him at Universal, which distributed the last Dragon film, and DreamWorks.
He is repped by WME and Lichter Grossman.
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