Book to Box Office: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Based on: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)
Expected release date (US): TBA
Directed by: Joe Wright
Summary: A man returns to his childhood home after a funeral and finds himself remembering an adventure he had when he was seven years old with Lettie Hempstock, the girl who lived at the end of the lane and who claimed her pond was an ocean.
Working For It: The Ocean is full of imaginative ideas, vivid visuals, likable characters, and a strong story. For a filmmaker it’s a logistical dream as there are only a handful of characters and the whole thing is set in two houses and a field. It’s also written by Neil Gaiman, one of the great modern fantasy writers who has a knack for mixing whimsy and scary with effortless ease. Joe Wright, who’s Atonement has similar themes of a child in an adult’s world, is an accomplished director who will do the work justice.
Working Against It: Joe Wright also directed Pan, which was a mess. This movie would require a deft hand with CG and set-pieces and Pan doesn’t fill me with confidence about Wright’s skill with that. Reading the book I had Peter Jackson or Guillermo Del Toro in mind, as they have that skill of making fantasy stories that are also intensely chilling (Heavenly Creatures, Pan’s Labyrinth, Devil’s Backbone). Though with this story Wright wouldn’t have the weight of Peter Pan sitting on his back so wouldn’t need to follow any pre-set rules or fill the movie with Easter eggs and references.
Wild Card: The two main characters are aged seven and eleven. Child actors can be great but they can also not be. Finding the perfect unnamed protag and Lettie will be half the battle for this movie, but if they nail that then the rest is clear sailing. In terms of casting the crucial role to cast in the adults will be Ursula Monkton, the villainous flea, and so far I’ve heard names like Emmy Rossum, Eva Green, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rosamund Pike, and Sophia Turner thrown into the mix but nothing concrete.
Verdict: This movie, in its early, early, stages, sounds very exciting. I love Neil Gaiman and I loved this book. Gradually, all of Gaiman’s works are being adapted with American Gods coming to our screens as a TV series soon and the constantly circling of Good Omens, which will hopefully one day yield a movie/TV show. This book is fantastic. It’s cheeky, scary, whimsical, and would make a great additional to the genre created by Guillermo Del Toro of scary as shit children’s stories.