Live-action remakes of animated films are not by any means a strange anomaly in Hollywood these days (Maleficent, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, etc). But what is strange is the mystery surrounding this particular project: A live-action adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, previously adapted into a 1982 Rankin/Bass animated film. Its decades-long development period has been well documented (at one point, the adaptation would have starred Christopher Lee). Now we bring news of a surprising new move on the project, one that could finally put the film on the fast track into existence.
According to Polygon, it was revealed at this year’s New York Comic-Con that German director Michael Pakleppa will lose his hold on the live-action film rights to the project early next year. Pakleppa acquired the rights in 1999 and, for some odd reason, has sat on them ever since, with no real action being put forward in actually making the film.
The news comes from producer Connor Cochran who, along with fellow producer Lauren Sands, are working to bring the rights back so that Peter S. Beagle can begin work on a screenplay (he also wrote the screenplay for the Rankin/Bass film). According to Cochran, Pakleppa believes that he is the only person who can direct a live-action version of The Last Unicorn and apparently refuses to give up the rights because, in Cochran’s words, “he is insane.”
The rights will expire in February and unless Pakleppa’s version enters principal photography before the first of that month, the live-action rights will go back to the market and once again be up for grabs by a number of various studios. In fact, Cochran confirmed that his team is currently in talks with “four or five other directors” in Hollywood about adapting the film should the rights go back on market as expected.
Whether this news will spur Pakleppa into action on the film remains to be seen (so far he’s done nothing but sit on the property for nearly 15 years). But it’s now becoming apparent from this latest move that the team is still driven towards the goal of getting the film made, with or without Pakleppa’s involvement.
What do you think? Any suggestions for directors who could do a capable job of adapting the story to live-action?