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Twentieth Century Studios is returning to the Victorian age of heroes.
The Disney studio division is rebooting The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the acclaimed comic book franchise created by author Alan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill.
Justin Haythe, whose diverse credits range from Revolutionary Road, the drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, to the Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller Red Sparrow, has been tapped to pen the screenplay for the project, which is intended to be made as a feature for Hulu.
Don Murphy, who produced 20th’s original adaptation of League in 2003, is back as a producer on the new iteration. Joining him is producing partner Susan Montford as well as Erwin Stoff of 3 Arts Entertainment.
A sort of Justice League of literary heroes from Victorian England, and mining works such as Dracula, Sherlock Holmes and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the initial concept featured Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll, and the Invisible Man squaring off against Fu Manchu, Professor Moriarty and aliens from H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.
The first two volumes were published by an imprint of DC Comics starting in 1999, but the creator-owned series moved to indie publishers after Moore, the author of comic classics Watchmen and V for Vendetta, saw his infamously prickly relationship with DC deteriorate even further. Several other volumes and graphic novels followed, with the last storyline wrapping up in 2019.
When the series initially hit, it was a sensation, thanks to Moore’s high-concept but dark and cynical tone, and to O’Neill complementing art, which captured the dingy and scrawly edge of the era. The first volume won the Bram Stoker Award for best illustrated narrative while the second won an Eisner Award for best limited series.
The 2003 movie famously took liberties with the source material, adding Tom Sawyer as a U.S. Secret Service agent, for example, and is notable as being the last role played by Sean Connery, who retired from acting soon after. The movie was also known for its troubled production, with Connery coming to blows with director Stephen Norrington. Still, the movie proved to be a moneymaker, grossing over $179 million worldwide, and a popular seller on DVD at the time.
Twentieth has attempted several reboots, including developing a female-centric feature take as well as a pilot for a series. None has gotten off the ground.
Sources say that Haythe and company are returning to the core comic books for their take.
Murphy and Montford are currently developing a Buck Rogers feature and series with George Clooney’s Smokehouse, set up at Legendary, and are coming off production on the Vampire Academy television series. The latter is due to premiere on Peacock in September. Murphy, a longtime Transformers franchise producer, also has the latest Autobot outing, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, set for a June 2023 release.
Haythe is repped by CAA, 3 Arts and Sloane Offer.
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