Cary Granat's Walden Media, the backer of James Cameron's out-of-competition Cannes screener Ghosts Of The Abyss, is to produce a big-budget 3-D movie of Jules Verne's Journey To The Centre Of The Earth as well as a new family film of Shakespeare's As You Like It.
Walden will next go into production on The Giver, a film version of Lois Lowry's classic children's novel starring Jeff Bridges and co-produced with his As Is Productions.
Walden is currently in production on Around The World In 80 Days, a $100m version of Verne's classic starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan and Jim Broadbent which is shooting at Berlin's Studio Babelsberg.
After The Giver, Walden, which is backed by Philip Anschutz's Anschutz Group plans to begin production on another $100m epic - the first ever live action film of CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe which is to be directed by Andrew Adamson (Shrek).
Granat, in Cannes this week for a promotional day for Around The World In 80 Days, said that a major distribution deal on The Lion' is only days away from being closed.
Walden, whose films are sold internationally by Summit Entertainment, was unveiled at Cannes 2001 with a unique remit to make family entertainment with multimedia educational opportunities. So far it has produced Ghosts, the hit movie Holes and I Am David starring Jim Caviezel and Joan Plowright.
Journey To The Center Of The Earth has been refashioned by British screenwriters Paul Chart (American Perfekt) and Gavin Scott (Small Soldiers, The Mists Of Avalon, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles).
Granat explained to Screen International that the film will tell the story of a group of youngsters who discover Jules Verne's original manuscript of the novel and discover that Verne himself had taken the journey to the centre of the earth. Using the manuscript as a map, they follow Verne's journey to the core.
Granat said that Walden had helped finance the 3-D retrofitting of the US exhibition sector for Ghosts Of The Abyss and was analysing the international situation at present for both Ghosts and future 3-D pictures.
Meanwhile As You Like It is 'a fun broad comedy for kids which uses our own version of the Shakespeare language' according to Granat. The script has been written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, whose credits include upcoming Julia Roberts-starrer Mona Lisa Smile and Planet Of The Apes.