Screenwriter Lucy Alibar has had an incredible year. In January of 2012, the indie movie adaptation of her stage play Juicy and Delicious premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival as Beasts of the Southern Wild. Since she adapted her play's script to a screenplay alongside Beasts director Benh Zeitlin, Alibar earned her fair share of buzz for the fantastical tale of a little girl with a tragic childhood, invincible spirit and confrontations with mythic and monstrous beasts. This was only Alibar's first film effort, but already she's scored an Oscar nomination for screenwriting. Hollywood expects great things from her, and now it's time to deliver.

Deadline reports that a frantic bidding war was waged over Alibar's pitch for a movie adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel The Secret Garden. Universal came out on top with a rumored six-figure deal. Sure, this story of a lonely girl who discovers magic in the neglected garden of her uncle has been adapted several times before, but Alibar promises a new take set during the turn of the 20th Century in the Southern US. Plus, she has the endorsement and collaboration of Guillermo del Toro tied into her pitch.

The full extent of del Toro's involvement in this project is at present unclear. Deadline insists the two will "work closely," and that del Toro will produce alongside Mark Johnson (Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, A Little Princess). There's also a chance del Toro might direct the feature. But with Pacific Rim in post production, the Pan's Labyrinth stage musical brewing, and a host of other projects including his upcoming next directorial effort, the haunted house horror Crimson Peak, it's more likely he'll only be a mentor and producer on this pic.

Still, Alibar, del Toro, and Johnson have each made visually striking dramas that center on spirited but lonely girls with big imaginations, so their skills combined promise a Secret Garden adaptation unlike any we've seen before.

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