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Lionsgate has picked up the rights to Dust, a cult tabletop game and graphic novel in a package that Rawson Marshall Thurber is attached to direct.
Dan Lin, one of the producers behind the Lego film franchise, is on board to produce.
Dust is set in an alternate-history, steampunk-themed version of the 1940s where World War II never ended and the world is divided into three blocs: the Allies, comprised of the U.S., the Commonwealth, and the French colonies; the Axis, not led by Hitler, who was successfully assassinated in Operation Valkerie; and the SSU, a union of the USSR and China. In this landscape the discovery of new ore leads to the creation of combat robots.
The game and graphic novel hail from Paolo Parente, an Italian fantasy illustrator who worked on role-playing games Mutant Chronicles and Magic: The Gathering before turning to create his own game, which attracts model-makers and cosplayers. It even has its own convention, Dust World Expo, which will be held March 27-29 in Arizona.
The project is seemingly a departure for Thurber, who until now has been known more for his broad hit comedies such as Dodgeball and We’re the Millers.
But Thurber is more fanboy than folks realize. For years he has been taking on assignments that have comic roots, such as an adaptation of comic book fantasy Elfquest for Warners and an adaptation of Gerard Way’s superhero comic The Umbrella Academy for Universal and Dark Horse.
Thurber came across Dust as a graphic novel when visiting Hollywood’s Meltdown Comics, subsequently discovering the game and its world. He sought out Parente, optioned the game himself and began developing his own take on it.
“It’s a cool spin on a genre that I’ve loved for a long time and it opens up narrative avenues that are just thrilling,” said Thurber. “It’s all my 9-year-old fantasies wrapped in one thing, a World War II mashup.”
The project is now out to writers.
Before CAA-repped Thurber inhales Dust, however, he will first tackle Central Intelligence, a feature project starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart for New Line. Thurber sees the movie, which shoots this summer in Boston, as a midway point for him as it combines both comedy and action elements.
On top of overseeing the ever-expanding Lego movie empire for Warners, Lin was a producer on the Robert Downey Jr.-starring Sherlock Holmes movies, which touched upon Victorian steampunk.
Erik Feig, Jim Miller and James Myers are overseeing the project for Lionsgate.
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