Irish children’s book series Artemis Fowl could become the next Harry Potter as Hollywood giants Harvey Weinstein and Robert De Niro are backing a big-screen version of Eoin Colfer’s novels.
Weinstein bought the film rights when he was still at Miramax in 2001, not long after the first book featuring the 12-year-old millionaire genius hit the shelves.
Now out on his own, he has teamed up with Walt Disney Studios — which subsequently bought Miramax — for the movie which the Wexford author expects will not reach cinemas for at least 18 months.
However, it should be worth the wait as screen legend De Niro — who first brought the book to Weinstein — is on the executive producers list. The screenplay is being finalised by Michael Goldenberg, writer of the screen version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The Artemis Fowl books have already sold more than 21m copies worldwide, but there will be natural speculation of a potential gold mine in screen adaptations of the books, which also feature Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit.
Colfer’s biggest concern yesterday, however, was that the producers get the tone of the movie right.
“It’s a funny book but you’ve got to play it straight and I don’t want it to go off into slapstick or, as it’s called in the movie business, Jar Jar Binks territory,” he told RTÉ News, alluding to the poorly received character of the revived Star Wars movie franchise.
Unlike Potter’s creator, Colfer has already ventured into crime fiction under his own name, with his second novel to feature Irish ex-solder character Dan McEvoy just published. Harry Potter author JK Rowling was outed this month as the writer of crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, under a pseudonym.
While the Harry Potter movie franchise has come to an end, 48-year-old Colfer is looking forward to a consultant’s role in the upcoming Artemis Fowl production, although he does not wish — or expect — to be too involved.
“I don’t have any clout. I’m just the writer, who’s down there with the caterer really,” he said.
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