"NeverEnding Story" arrives at new beginning

Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:20am GMT

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "The NeverEnding Story" might keep going.

Warner Bros. and a pair of top-tier production companies are in the early stages of a reboot of the 1984 children's fantasy classic.

The Kennedy/Marshall Co., whose credits include "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and Leonard DiCaprio's Appian Way are in discussions with Warners about reviving the 25-year-old franchise. The studio recently acquired rights to the property, clearing the way for a potential remake.

Based on a German-language novel by Michael Ende, the film centers on a boy named Bastian Balthazar Bux who discovers a parallel world in a book titled "The NeverEnding Story." As the boy, a loner, delves deeper into the book, he increasingly finds his life intertwined with the plot of the novel, in which a hero in the land of Fantasia must save the universe on behalf of an empress.

The new movie will put a modern spin on the material by examining the more nuanced details of the book that were glossed over in the first feature.

Wolfgang Petersen directed the 1984 film, which earned a respectable $20 million for Warners. The film has had a long life on home video and an even larger influence on popular culture, prefiguring the Harry Potter stories and other children's fantasies.

A sequel directed by George Miller came out in 1990 and earned $17 million; a third movie followed in the U.S. in 1996 but quickly went to video.

Those familiar with the project emphasize that it is in its early stages and that writers have not been hired.

Still, the interest highlights the frenzy among big entertainment players to develop revivals or sequels of dormant '80s and '90s franchises, which has reached fever pitch with the success of reboots like "Friday the 13th," the fast-track development of a new version of "RoboCop" and plans to update "Total Recall."

"NeverEnding" came out long before the fantasy genre was seen as a springboard for a Hollywood blockbuster, and Warners is said to see a new opportunity in the first-generation children's fantasy. The studio has had success producing and releasing the Harry Potter series, whose first five pictures have earned more than $4.5 billion worldwide.

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

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