Carlos Saldanha, the director of animated films “Rio” and most recently “Ferdinand,” has signed on to direct a live-action feature adaptation of the classic children’s novel “The Phantom Tollbooth” at TriStar, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.
Ted Melfi (“Hidden Figures”) wrote the current draft of the screenplay, based on Norton Juster’s 1961 book, along with previous writers Michael Vukadinovich and Phil Johnston.
“The Phantom Tollbooth,” which is being produced by Donald De Line and Ed McDonnell, would be Saldanha’s live-action feature debut.
“The Phantom Tollbooth,” which featured illustrations by Jules Feiffer, is a fantasy novel about a bored young boy named Milo. He receives a magic tollbooth as a gift and finds himself transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom. He meets two companions and goes on a quest to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason and restore the kingdom to its former glory.
Justen’s writing is filled with puns and wordplay in which Milo literally “jumps to conclusions” or explores the literal meaning of idioms.
Matt Shakman of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fame was previously attached to direct back in 2017, but moved on from the project.
Chuck Jones originally co-directed an adaptation back in 1970 featuring the voices of Mel Blanc. The film was largely animated, but also included live-action sequences.
Saldanha is a two-time Oscar nominee for “Ferdinand” and the short film “Gone Nutty.” He is repped by WME.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported his involvement.