'Nutcracker' reimagined at New Line

Darren Lemke pitch turns classic tale into action film

New Line has picked up a pitch from Darren Lemke, the writer behind the studio's Bryan Singer project "Jack the Giant Killer," that reimagines the classic tale of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" as an action-adventure movie.

Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey of Temple Hill Entertainment are producing.

"Nutcracker" is best known as the Christmas ballet with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, but the actual story was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann decades before the ballet's debut in 1892.

The story centers on a 12-year-old girl who, with her brother and sister, receive gifts from their clockmaker-inventor godfather on Christmas Eve, one of which is a Nutcracker doll. That night, the girl begins an adventure that includes a war involving a seven-headed Mouse King and his army of mice, curses and themes of ugliness and beauty.

The story has been adapted into various forms of animation, and the ballet version has found itself on screens many times.

Lemke worked with Temple Hill on an update of "The Wizard of Oz," and the parties were keen on finding a follow-up, which led them to "Nutcracker."

The update will be written in a family-adventure tone similar to "The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

Lemke, repped by UTA, seems to have a thing for classic folk and fairy tales; in addition to writing "Giant," he also worked on DreamWorks Animation's fairy tale-skewing "Shrek Forever After."

"I like the classic stories, but only if you can find a way to embrace them, without betraying them, and tell the tale with a forward thrust, making them feel modern," he said.

Lemke also worked on "The Mechanic," in production, and "Gemini Man," set up at Disney.

Temple Hill, coming off the success of "New Moon," next has the war love story "Dear John," starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, set for release in February.

Michael Disco and Michele Weiss are overseeing "Nutcracker."