Screenwriter John August has been Tim Burton’s go-to guy. His last few credits include Frankenweenie, Dark Shadows and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When he isn’t writing for Burton, he’s penning The Nines and two Charlie’s Angels movies. What tone will he attempt to strike with Wonder, a YA bestseller he might adapt for Lionsgate?

Variety links August’s name with the adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s book, which addresses bullying in a unique way by following main character August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy born with a facial deformity. The look, up to this point of his life, has kept him out of mainstream schools. But as he tries to assimilate into Beecher Prep in time for fifth grade, August only wants to fit in as a normal kid, even though his classmates can’t get over his face.

Variety notes all of this conversation is preliminary, as the studio has yet to finalize rights to the book. But they’d like August for the job if the puzzle pieces start snapping into place.

The YA genre – or film adaptations of popular YA books – is trying to turn a corner. It’s attempting to distance itself from the stain of the Twilight saga, which even loyal fans have to admit suffered from amateurish writing, and graduate to mature storylines handled by gifted screenwriters and risk-taking directors. And as Variety notes, Lionsgate is doing a lot to lead this charge. The Hunger Games movies are moving in that direction, with Emmy winner penning the final two sequels in that franchise. The studio also hired Charlie Kaufman to pen an adaptation of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking. The next project to continue down that path might be Wonder.

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