On July 29 at San Diego Comic-Con, Disney announced that they were partnering with Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company to produce a film based on the first two novel’s in Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” series. Jim Sheridan, director of “Dream House” and “My Left Foot,” has been confirmed with the screenplay being developed by Michael Goldenberg, screenwriter for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Green Lantern.”
The “Artemis Fowl” series centers on an Irish child prodigy/criminal mastermind named Artemis Fowl II who in his first adventure, alongside his bodyguard Butler, kidnaps a fairy with the intent of holding her for a ransom to restore his family’s wealth.
The series has been touted as “the next Harry Potter” and has generated a sizable fan following despite never quite enjoying the same mainstream success “Harry Potter” had.
The fact that the two were never in direct competition may play to the advantages of this film franchise.
While the comparisons will still be made, there hasn’t been a franchise that has had the cross-generational appeal of “Harry Potter” despite several attempts.
“Artemis Fowl” isn’t the only trick up the sleeves of the Weinstein Company. They have yet another series of moderately successful books lined up for the silver screen. The difference being that a release date has been set – February 14, 2014.
The book series in question is “Vampire Academy” by Richelle Mead, which follows Rose Hathaway, a seventeen-year old Dhampir attending St. Vladimir’s Academy, training to be a bodyguard for her best friend Vasilisa Dragomir.
The target audience for this particular franchise should be clear as day as the synopsis feels like a hybrid of Laurel K. Hamilton’s “Anita Blake” series and every shoujo manga ever to be released in the US.
I haven’t actually read the books, so that judgment may seem unfair, but that’s the kind of vibe I’m getting.
Why has nobody heard of the film version so far? Because the film has barely started shooting with the only form of advertising being a few posters here and there at the Megaplex theatres.
To summarize, you have the Weinstein Company producing a film that will hopefully start a franchise that rakes in the “Twilight” crowd while at the same time teaming up with Disney to develop another film that will hopefully start a franchise to rake in the “Harry Potter” crowd.
Given that the only competition so far has been “Percy Jackson,” which hasn’t met with success so much as stumbled at the starting line on both laps around the track, and “The Mortal Instruments,” which isn’t out yet, the Weinstein’s may be settling themselves into a very lucrative position in the industry.
Whether or not things will work out for them remains to be seen.
But given the timing, and the fact that companies have been scrambling for the next big franchise to compete with Marvel and soon Star Wars, The Weinstein’s are probably playing the right hand of cards by keeping marketing to a minimum unlike those other franchises where they announce a film before they’ve even written the script.
This may be the beginning on another wave of successful franchises, or simply more saturation to what is becoming a very crowded environment. As always, the only way to ensure, or deny, the success of these franchises is with our dollars. Once the trailers start surfacing, we’ll have a better idea of what’s worth paying for, and what will be left to the mercy of the worldwide box-office.