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Dean DeBlois to Produce and Direct ‘Treasure Island’ for Universal

News comes on heels of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ trilogy director’s deal to write and direct live-action ‘Micronauts’ for Paramount / Hasbro.

With the ink barely dry on his deal to write and direct Micronauts for Paramount / Hasbro, Dean DeBlois is back in the news with another big movie announcement; he has been signed to direct and produce Treasure Island, an action adventure film inspired by the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel, being developed by Universal Pictures and Mandeville Films.

Evan Spiliotopoulos (Beauty and the Beast, The Huntsman: Winter's War) will write the script, collaborating with DeBlois on the story. Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman of Mandeville Films (Beauty and the Beast, Wonder) will produce with DeBlois. 

Back on September 23, AWN reported DeBlois had signed on to write and direct the live-action Micronauts for Paramount / Hasbro. The studio has set a June 4, 2021 release date for the film, which is based on a Japanese action figure toy line. The project at one point had been in development at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot; Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick had also at one point been attached as scriptwriters.

Considered one of the great classics of literature, “Treasure Island” was first published in 1883, though it was originally serialized in the children’s magazine, Young Folks, between 1881 and 1882. It tells the story of a young English boy, Jim Hawkins, on an adventurous journey with Pirate Captain Long John Silver to find a fabled buried treasure.  Numerous movie and TV versions of the story have been made dating back to Victor Fleming’s 1934 version that starred Wallace Beery and Jackie Coogan. In 2012, Syfy’s two-part Treasure Island miniseries, starring Eddie Izzard, Donald Sutherland and Elijah Wood, garnered Emmy nominations for both TV movie costumes and cinematography.

DeBlois came onto the mainstream animation radar in a big way with the 2002 Disney release of Lilo & Stitch, which he co-wrote and directed with Chris Sanders, a funny, emotionally uplifting and beautifully animated film that many consider his finest work and one of the best animated features the studio has produced in the last 30 years. He also created Lilo & Stitch: The Series with Sanders, which ran from 2003-2006, before leaving Disney for DreamWorks Animation, where the pair co-wrote and directed How to Train Your Dragon, released in 2010 to critical and box office success. DeBlois went on to write and direct the next two films in the Dragon saga himself, culminating in How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World, which was released this past February. The three Dragon films have generated more than $1.6 billion at the global box office as well as a number of successful animated TV series.

Director of Development Lexi Barta will oversee the project on behalf of Universal; Senior Vice President Alex Young will oversee the project on behalf of Mandeville Films. DeBlois is represented by WME and Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman & Clark.

Source: Universal Pictures

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.