Director of The Jackel and Memphis Belle joins $30m fantasy epic.

Michael Caton-Jones has been confirmed to direct $30.9m (£20m) children’s fantasy film The Giant Under The Snow.

The film will be an adaptation of a 1968 adventure novel by John Gordon, which centres on three school friends who discover an ancient treasure and become embroiled in the final act of an epic battle of good against evil.

The live-action feature is intended to act as the first in a trilogy, with shooting planned at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios as well as on location in the UK from October 2015. Theatrical release is planned for Christmas 2016.

VFX will be handled by London-based CineSite, which worked on the Harry Potter franchise and more recently handled Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow.

Caton-Jones is developing the screenplay with Tom Williams (Chalet Girl, Kajaki).

Ralph Kamp, former Icon Productions CEO, will likely be global sales and distribution agent through his outfit, Timeless Films.

Scottish director Caton-Jones is known for titles including Scandal (1989), Memphis Belle (1990), Doc Hollywood (1991), This Boy’s Life (1993), Rob Roy (1995) and The Jackal (1997). Recent credits include Basic Instinct 2 (2006) and episodes of BBC spy drama Spooks (2010).

Caton-Jones returned to the UK to direct his latest film, Urban Hymn, which is set against the backdrop of the 2011 summer riots and is due for release this year.

Producer is David Rogers and executive producer is Paul Tucker, who previously spent 10 years at Icon Productions working as Mel Gibson’s producer and head of European production for 10 years.

Production designer is Allan Cameron (The Mummy, The Da Vinci Code; art director and storyboard artist is Jim Cornish (Gravity, Skyfall); and casting director is Karen Maxwell (Thor: The Dark World, Captain America).