Branagh Resurrects “Artemis Fowl” from Hollywood Limbo

BY BENJAMIN K. PAPLHAM

Rejoice, Fowl fans! Everyone’s beloved teenage criminal mastermind is finally hitting the silver screen. Ever since its initial release in 2001, Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” has been extremely popular within young adult fantasy literature, selling millions of copies worldwide.

The books center on anti-hero Artemis Fowl II, child prodigy and son to an elite Irish crime boss, and his adventures with the proud and secretive fairy folk. As far as the movie is concerned, reports indicate that the film will combine the first two of the eight books in the series. In the first installment, Artemis, always concerned with financial affairs, devises a plot to kidnap a fairy, Holly Short, and hold her for an exuberant ransom. In the second novel, Artemis teams up with the fairies on a rescue mission to save his father from the Russian mafia.

An “Artemis Fowl” film adaptation has been in preproduction mode as far back as 2001 when Miramax brought the rights to the series. (Walt Disney Studios and The Weinstein Company now own the rights.) At the time, Lawrence Guterman (“Cats & Dogs,”) was named as director, but his production fizzled and died. Since then, the movie has been trapped in Hollywood Limbo with rumors circulating every few years but with no credibility behind them. Fourteen years later, Disney has announced that Kenneth Branagh will take the helm.

Hailing from Northern Ireland, Branagh was well known in the United Kingdom as a stage actor and Shakespeare enthusiast, directing and acting the movies “Henry V” in 1989, “Much Ado About Nothing” in 1993 and “Hamlet” in 1996. However, he captured the attention of American audiences in his role as Gilderoy Lockhart in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” in 2002 . Recently, Branagh has directed two other Disney films, “Thor”(2011) and “Cinderella”(2015), the latter grossing $542 million worldwide.

The announcement of “Artemis Fowl” has left many fans clamoring for more updates on the production. Strong indications point to Conor McPherson becoming the screenwriter , an Irish playwright and Tony Award nominee for “Shining City” and “The Seafarer”, but no official word has come yet. No release date has been set for the adaptation, either, and no actors or actresses have been connected to any of the roles. In any case, it will be exciting to see how the book translates into film.

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