Amblin this week announced it is adapting The Talisman for Netflix, has hired the screenwriter for Stolen Time, and the documentary Good Night Oppy.
The Talisman tells the tale of 12-year-old Jack Sawyer as he sets off on an epic fantasy road-trip to save his dying mother’s life. To do so, he must find the Talisman, a powerful relic that can heal his mother and save the world. Jack’s quest criss-crosses two realities; the America we know and its dangerous, fantasy-world twin, “The Territories.”
The showrunner and writer of The Talisman is Curtis Gwinn (Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, The Leftovers). The executive producers are The Duffer Brothers/Monkey Massacre Productions (Stranger Things), Steven Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey for Amblin Television, Stephen King, and Paramount Television Studios.
The book is officially described as follows: “Jack Sawyer, twelve years old, is about to begin a most fantastic journey, an exalting, terrifying quest for the mystical Talisman—the only thing that can save Jack’s dying mother. But to reach his goal, Jack must make his way not only across the breadth of the United States but also through the wondrous and menacing parallel world of the Territories.
“In the Territories, Jack finds another realm, where the air is so sweet and clear a man can smell a radish being pulled from the ground a mile away—and a life can be snuffed out instantly in the continuing struggle between good and evil. Here Jack discovers “Twinners,” reflections of the people he knows on earth—most notably Queen Laura, the Twinner of Jack’s own imperiled mother. As Jack “flips” between worlds, making his way westward toward the redemptive Talisman, a sequence of heart-stopping encounters challenges him at every step.”
Amblin Partners announced that Michelle Dean will write the screenplay for Stolen Time, its feature film telling the incredible true story of wrongfully convicted death row inmate Sonia “Sunny” Jacobs.
Dean, a literary and investigative reporter-turned screenwriter and producer, is best known for her work as co-creator, executive producer and writer of The Act – Hulu’s drama series based on the real life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the murder of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who was found to have abused her daughter by fabricating illness and disabilities as a direct consequence of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Patricia Arquette earned Emmy and Golden Globe wins for her performance in the series, and star Joey King also earned nominations from those same groups.
Dean’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and Elle, and her first book, Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion, was published in 2018. She was honored in 2016 with the National Book Critics’ Circle’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.
Amblin announced last year that it had acquired the film rights to the story of Sonia “Sunny” Jacobs, who was in her 20s when she and her husband, Jesse Tafero, were convicted of the fatal shooting of two law enforcement officers based on the false testimony of the man who actually committed the murders.
As part of the development process, Dean and producer Juliet Blake are reviewing over 2,500 personal letters sent between Jacobs and Tafero, during their 15 year incarceration.
Juliet Blake is producing. Blake is Head of Television at TED and previously produced The Hundred-Foot Journey with Amblin. Amblin Partners’ President of Production Holly Bario, will oversee on behalf of the studio.
Amazon Studios, Film 45, Amblin Television and Tripod Media are also co-producing the upcoming feature documentary Good Night Oppy from director Ryan White. With the support of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the film tells the inspirational true story of Opportunity, a Mars Exploration Rover, and the bond forged between the robot and the humans that created her. The producers are Amblin Partners’ Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, Film 45’s Brandon Carroll and Matt Goldberg, and Tripod Media’s Jessica Hargrave and Ryan White. Stephen Neely and Max Wagner will serve as executive producers.
Good Night Oppy follows Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover affectionately dubbed “Oppy” by her creators and scientists at NASA. Oppy was originally expected to live for only 90 days, but she ultimately explored the Red Planet for nearly 15 years. The story is one of a robot traveling a planet on her own, but driven (literally) by the connection and extreme bond that formed between human and machine.
Through riveting visual effects created by ILM, audiences will be transported to the Red Planet alongside Oppy. JPL, which successfully landed Opportunity’s “younger sister” Perseverance on Mars last month, is providing the filmmakers with access and unique footage in the filming of this documentary, along with their scientific expertise and knowledge of Oppy’s mission.
“We are so thrilled to be working with these extraordinary partners to bring Oppy’s story to our global customers,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “The innovation and determination that made Oppy’s journey possible, and the spirit of discovery that drives the team at JPL, are an inspiration. As we celebrate their achievements, we are delighted to also be working with the extremely talented filmmaker Ryan White, and our friends at Amblin Television and Film 45 to bring this heartwarming story to life.”
“It was impossible not to fall in love with the story of Oppy – one of hope, ambition, adventure and exceeded expectations, and an exploration of the special relationship between mankind and technology, which ticked all the boxes for our Amblin brand,” said Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, Co-Presidents Amblin Television. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with our friends at Amazon Studios, Film 45 and Tripod Media to bring Oppy’s miraculous story to life.”
“I grew up on films like E.T. and Wall-E, so to make a documentary with similar themes of wonder and awe has been a joy,” said White. “We’re thrilled to work with Amazon to bring the story of Oppy and her humans to global audiences of all ages.”
Clint LaVigne will oversee the day-to-day development of the project for Amblin, alongside Frank and Falvey.