Berlin: Christoph Waltz, Guy Pearce Enter 'The Portable Door' With Jim Henson Company (Exclusive)

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Christoph Waltz and Guy Pearce

ArcLight Films is shopping the fantasy adventure comedy at the European Film Market.

Christoph Waltz and Guy Pearce are to star in the fantasy adventure comedy The Portable Door, adapted from Tom Holt's six-book fantasy series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Jim Henson Company and Story Bridge Films, behind Daybreakers and Bait, are producing, with ArcLight Films representing the project at the European Film Market in Berlin for all territories outside of Australia and New Zealand.

Patrick Gibson (The OA, Tolkien) stars in the film, which Jeffrey Walker (Ali’s Wedding, Lambs of God) will direct from a screenplay adapted by Leon Ford (Griff the Invisible). The Portable Door will be produced by Lisa Henson and Blanca Lista from The Jim Henson Company (Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day; The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), and Todd Fellman from Story Bridge Films. Elevate Production Finance’s Craig McMahon is financing the film.

In The Portable Door, Paul Carpenter, a new intern at the mysterious London firm J.W. Wells & Co., becomes steadily aware that his employers are anything but conventional. Charismatic villain Humphrey Wells (Waltz), the CEO of the company, is disrupting the world of magic by bringing modern corporate strategy to ancient magical practices. Dennis Tanner (Pearce) is the shape-shifting goblin trapped in the organization’s middle management. Paul Carpenter (Gibson) is the lowly, put-upon intern who discovers the true agenda of the vast corporation where they work.

"We were especially drawn to the crowd-pleasing franchise potential of The Portable Door, with its relatable, gritty humor made popular in shows like The Office, and its rich, Harry Potter-like, high-fantasy setting,” said Henson, producer and CEO of The Jim Henson Company. "Once we were able to entice accomplished and versatile director Jeffrey Walker to join the project, we knew we had someone perfectly suited to pull together this unique tone and ground the film for its audience."

Arclight Films’ Gary Hamilton and Brian Beckmann will serve as executive producers on the film.

"Leon Ford has written a brilliant script that delivers a perfect balance of comedy, wit, fantasy, adventure and heart within a grand, visually stunning and timeless world," said Fellman of Story Bridge Films. "It's exciting to be working with such an incredible team and to bring this story to life in way that will sit proudly alongside other classics in the Henson tradition."

"We are delighted to be handling sales on The Portable Door," said ArcLight Films chairman Hamilton. "When we read the script, we immediately recognized the great potential of the story and the uniqueness of a project that combines in such a smart way both comedy and fantasy, all supported by a first-rate cast."

A version of this story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 20 daily issue at the Berlin Film Festival.