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The Magic Faraway Tree set for the big screen
Neal Street Productions and Elysian Film Group have announced that BAFTA award-winner Simon Farnaby, whose most recent film Wonka is currently top of the worldwide box office, has adapted the much beloved children's classic The Magic Faraway Tree which will be directed by Ben Gregor (Britannia, Cuckoo, Black Ops, Fatherhood). Based on the book series by bestselling British author Enid Blyton, principal photography is set to begin in June 2024, with casting currently underway.
Academy Award-nominee Pippa Harris (Empire of Light, 1917, Call the Midwife) and Nicolas Brown (Britannia, Informer, Penny Dreadful) of Neal Street Productions will produce alongside Danny Perkins (Greatest Days) of Elysian Film Group. Perkins developed the film alongside Harris while running Studiocanal UK. Ashland Hill Media Finance is fully financing The Magic Faraway Tree. Tamara Birkemoe’s US and UK-based Palisades Park Pictures is handling worldwide sales, with CAA Media Finance co-repping US rights, and will present the film at the European Film Market next month.
“Enid Blyton’s timeless story The Magic Faraway Tree has long been captivating the hearts and minds of children and adults alike, and I have no doubt that Farnaby and Gregor’s adaptation will resonate with modern audiences across the globe,” commented Danny Perkins, CEO, Elysian Film Group. “Pippa and I are thrilled to bring this wonderful project to the big screen with the backing of Ashland Hill Media Finance.”
“The Magic Faraway Tree was the first book I ever read as a child and it captured my imagination like no other. Blyton’s joyous stories explore the importance of family, childhood creativity and the environment, themes which are just as resonant today, if not more so. I’m thrilled to be bringing the delights of this enchanted tree to a whole new generation” said Pippa Harris, Co-founder, Neal Street Productions.
“The amazing group of filmmakers assembled to bring The Magic Faraway Tree to life for family film audiences worldwide is a testament to the strength of this enchanting and classic story,” added Ashland Hill Media Finance Managing Partner, Simon Williams. “It’s set to be a magical journey both in front and behind the camera and we are thrilled that principal photography is set for June.”
Based on The Faraway Tree series of novels for children, The Magic Faraway Tree follows Polly and Tim and their children Beth, Joe and Fran – a modern family who find themselves forced to relocate to the remote English countryside. Soon after their arrival, the children discover a magical tree and its extraordinary and eccentric residents such as the treasured characters Moonface, Silky, Dame Wash-a-lot and Saucepan Man. At the top of the tree, they are transported to spectacular and fantastical lands and, through the joys and challenges of their adventures, the family learn to reconnect and value each other for the first time in years.
Farnaby most recently penned the screenplay for Warner Bros. Wonka starring Timothée Chalamet, which has continuously topped the international box office since its release in December 2023 with a gross of over $465M worldwide and counting. He also wrote Paddington 2 for Studiocanal and served as creator and writer on the BBC series Ghosts.
Following his debut feature film All Stars, director Ben Gregor achieved critical acclaim with the musical feature Fatherhood and also helmed TV projects including BBC’s Black Ops, Cuckoo with Andie MacDowell, and “Britannia,” starring Sophie Okonedo.
Farnaby is represented by Independent Talent Group and Gallant Management. Gregor is represented by Curtis Brown Group and WME.
Neal Street Productions is renowned for award-winning, commercially successful films, TV and theatre productions. Their 2019 feature, 1917, grossed over $380 million dollars at the box office and for over twelve years, Call theMidwife has dominated the TV landscape, with the recent Christmas special winning the ratings battle to be the most watched programme across the prestigious holiday period.
This announcement comes on the heels of Elysian Film Group’s major coup with its recent UK release of Golden Globe-winner The Boy and The Heron, from Studio Ghibli, with partners Anonymous Content and Bleecker Street. The film made £1.79 million in its first week and is the second-highest opening of all time for a Japanese movie in the UK. Elysian is currently in production on Jim O’Hanlon’s Fackham Hall starring Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Katherine Waterston.