Relativity Media announced today they have signed Mikael Håfström (The Tomb, 1408) to direct a film based on the New York Times best-selling internationally-acclaimed fantasy adventure book series Tunnels. The script by Andrew Lobel is based on the adapted screenplay originally written by Joel Bergvall & Simon Sandquist. Tunnels is the film adaptation of the first installment of the novel series from Scholastic/Chicken House publishing, by authors Roderick Gordon and BrIan Williams, which has sold over one million copies and has been published in nearly forty countries worldwide.
The authors have already completed five sequels with the sixth and final book in the series, Terminal, to be published in the U.S. this Fall. The property was unearthed by Barry Cunningham, the man credited with discovering Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and whose boutique Chicken House imprint is part of Scholastic, the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series.
Tunnels is a thrilling, epic fantasy adventure for all ages. Beneath the streets of London, two teenage boys discover an incredible, hidden underground world where a secret civilization has been desperately waiting for a hero to save them all. The deeper they go, the closer they get to unearthing an evil that could destroy the world above and put an end to the lives they once lived.
Tunnels is being produced by Mark Canton (300, Immortals), Neil Canton (Back to the Future) and Danny Davids alongside Relativity's CEO Ryan Kavanaugh (The Fighter). Relativity's President Tucker Tooley (The Fighter) will executive produce with Kelly Dennis (1408). Atmosphere's David Hopwood will serve as co-producer.
Cunningham said, "Only a few times in my life have I felt that rush of imagination in a story that I know is going to sweep up an audience in its grip, Tunnels made me believe in adventure, bravery and a new world."
Tooley said, "Andrew has written an incredible script and Mikael brings a creative and powerful vision to this project. The Tunnels novels have proven to be one of the most immensely exciting adventure series in recent years and we can't wait to translate that excitement to the big screen."
"The originality of the book and its sequels, which uniquely combine the adventure of Indiana Jones with the magic of Narnia, along with its franchise potential, is what attracted Relativity, Neil, Danny and myself to Tunnels and I'm delighted to be producing it with them," Mark Canton added. "Having just finished TheTomb with Mikael Hafstrom, I know first hand that he's the perfect person to direct this epic fantasy, and Andrew Lobel's script has captured every bit of the incredible world that Roderick Gordon and BrIan Williams have created."
"Barry Cunningham clearly has a keen eye for spotting authors whose epic stories appeal to readers of all ages around the globe," said Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade. "Scholastic is proud to be the American publisher of the bestselling Tunnels series, and we look forward to seeing this underground and imaginative world expand through film."
Relativity's Jason Barhydt will oversee the project for the studio.
Håfström is represented by WME. Lobel is represented by WME and Madhouse Entertainment.
Relativity's latest film adaptation was Nicholas Sparks' best-selling Safe Haven which opened on Valentine's Day February 14th and grossed nearly $34 million in its first five days of release.
Relativity also recently acquired U.S. rights to distribute Joseph Gordon-Levitt's daring, hotly- pursued directorial debut Don Jon's Addiction at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Up next, Relativity will release The Comedy 21 and Over (in theatres March 1, 2013) and the corporate espionage thriller Paranoia (in theatres October 4, 2013). Relativity is currently in post-production on Scott Cooper's gritty dramatic thriller currently-titled Out of the Furnace and Luc Besson's comedic action film currently-titled Malavita (October 18, 2013) with EuropaCorp. Relativity is currently in production on Jimmy Hayward's upcoming animated, hilarious buddy comedy Turkeys (November 1, 2013) and the currently-titled thriller Three Days to Kill with EuropaCorp.