Harvey Weinstein and Walt Disney Studios have teamed up to develop a live-action film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s popular children’s series Artemis Fowl, Disney announced Monday in a press release. The movie will be based on the first two of Colfer’s fantasy novels about a brilliant 12-year-old criminal who schemes to capture a fairy. Michael Goldenberg, who wrote the screenplay for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is penning the script, with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal serving as executive producers.
The idea to turn the books into a movie isn’t new, though, and neither is Weinstein’s involvement. He’s been interested in developing the series since his Miramax days in the early 2000s.
For industry insiders and those who followed the acquisitions and shifting leadership within the movie business in the past two decades, this pairing of Weinstein and Disney might come as a particular shock. Harvey, along with his brother Bob, sold Miramax (which they co-founded in 1979) to Disney in 1993 and had a famously combative relationship with then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner. After the brothers left the company in 2005, they attempted, and failed, to buy back Miramax — a company that held both financial and sentimental value to them, as it was named after their parents.
Disney is under new leadership, though, and the wounds of the Eisner era must have gone by the wayside. “Harvey is one of the preeminent producers in the industry, with impeccable taste and creative instincts,” said Alan Horn, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, in the press release, adding: “I had a wonderful time working with Harvey during my tenure at Warner Bros., and I’m very happy to continue that relationship here at Disney.”
The oddness of the collaboration isn’t lost on Weinstein either. “If you would have told me five years ago I would be producing a project with Disney I would have thought you were crazy,” Harvey said in the press release. “I feel as though everything is coming full circle considering Bob De Niro and Jane Rosenthal brought me this book while I was still at Miramax and within hours I told them I wanted the rights to the film.”
Weinstein added: “This is a special project for me because my children absolutely love this book. This story is for everyone and there is no one better than Disney to make a film that will excite people young and old.”