Mandate gets scribe for 'Ghouly' pic

Sam Esmail will adapt children's comic

Freshman screenwriter Sam Esmail has been hired to adapt children's comic "The Ghouly Boys" for Mandate Pictures. Lindsay Doran ("Nanny McPhee") is producing through her Three Strange Angels shingle.

J.C. Spink, Chris Bender and Jake Weiner of Benderspink and Mandate president Nathan Kahane will serve as executive producers. Mary Lee will oversee the project for Mandate.

In 2006, Mandate picked up film rights to the spooky and comical graphic-novel series about a quartet of young monster outcasts and their efforts to fit in. Written and drawn by the single-named artist Christopher (Higginson), "Ghouly" was published in 2004 by Slave Labor Graphics.

Esmail's script will follow two friends -- a young boy looking to contact his dead father and a young zombie seeking a way to come back to life -- who set off on an adventure.

Mandate most recently produced "Passengers" and "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist." The company has Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, "Whip It!" in production, as well as the thriller "Peacock."

Benderspink is exec producing the Warner Bros. comedy "The Hangover," set for a June release, and is developing the Spyglass Entertainment romantic comedy "Leap Year," which has Golden Globe- and WGA Award-winning scribe Simon Beaufoy working on the screenplay.

Doran's Three Strange Angels has a first-look deal with Mandate, with whom she made "Stranger Than Fiction" in 2006. She is producing the sequel "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang" for Working Title.

Esmail, repped by WMA and Energy Entertainment, had his original screenplay "Sequels, Remakes & Adaptations" land on the 2008 unofficial Black List of "most liked" screenplays.