Warner Bros has snatched up the movie rights to Uprooted, Naomi Novik’s dark new fairy tale-inspired fantasy novel. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio beat out Lionsgate and Fox 2000 for the chance to adapt Novik’s tale of Agnieszka, a young woman handed over to a wizard called Dragon in exchange for protecting her land from the malevolent Wood.
Even more interesting is that Finding Nemo and Finding Dory star Ellen DeGeneres has signed on as one of the producers. Her producing partner Jeff Kleeman (they run A Very Good Production) was the one to bring the book to her attention.
Here’s the synopsis for Uprooted, described as part Beauty and the Beast, part Howl’s Moving Castle:
Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
The book was published in the U.S. and UK in May; you can read an excerpt here.
Update: Novik confirmed the news on June 18, writing on her website,
…I am so pleased and excited to be able to confirm that yes, Warner Brothers—home of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies, among many other wonderful fantasy films—have optioned the rights to turn Uprooted into what we all hope will be another series of wonderful fantasy films.
Many people were involved behind the scenes in getting this deal to happen, but I particularly have to thank brilliant producer Jeff Kleeman, for championing the book from the start, and the wonderful Ellen DeGeneres for getting behind the project. I’m so delighted to be working with them and with Niija Kuykendall and Julia Spiro at Warner.