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Children’s entertainment and horror aren’t always the most likely of bedfellows, but some filmmakers are able to make the transition easily - sometimes simply by combining the genres. Joe Dante, who went from The Howling to Gremlins to Looney Tunes: Back in Action, is one of those filmmakers. But how about Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the two screenwriters responsible for scripting Saw IV through Saw 3D: The Final Chapter? We’ll be able to see just how well they’re able to tone down their murderous instincts, as they’ve been hired to write Disney’s live-action adaptation of the multi-volume graphic novel The Stuff of Legend, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Granted, this is all pretty dark material for a children’s tale, so it won’t be the biggest stretch.
The project first came up last year when Disney attached animator Pete Candeland to direct after he spent a year putting together as powerful a pitch as he could. He is still attached to helm the feature, which is being produced through Disney’s Mandeville Films.
Melton and Dunstan got their break back in 2005 with Feast, the horror movie created as a result of the third season of Matt Damon and Benn Affleck’s Project Greenlight competition reality series. Besides the back half of the Saw franchise, they’re most famous for 2009’s The Collector and its 2012 sequel, which Melton directed from a script the pair co-wrote. Most recently, they wrote the shoddy sequel Piranha 3DD and the indie sci-fi flick Rise, as well as a planned reboot of the classic series The Outer Limits. The script for Pacific Rim also passed through their hands for an uncredited rewrite. So they’re used to writing films where groups of characters attempt to take on a monstrous threat. But what if that threat is the Boogeyman himself?
Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith and illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, The Stuff of Legend tells the story of a child in 1944 Brooklyn who is kidnapped by a real life Boogeyman, who pulls the child into his closet and into a realm known as The Dark. Back in the house, the family dog rounds up all of the kid’s favorite toys and they all go on a dangerous rescue mission into The Dark, where they are transformed into lifesize beings, complete with deadly weaponry. Led by the Colonel, the toys’ journey is a tale of loyalty and determination, as they come up against enemies outside (old and forgotten toys) and within (betrayal and conflict within the toys themselves). Sure, the comparisons to Toy Story are inevitable, but this is much edgier material. That doesn’t mean they can’t bring Don Rickles in, though. Just saying.
The screenplay was originally given to Abduction scribe Shawn Christensen, but he had to drop out of the project once he won the Academy Award for his short film Curfew, which is being turned into a full-length feature.