Stop the presses, this is amazing news: Ava DuVernay has just signed on to direct a Disney adaptation of science-fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time.
Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 Newbery Medal-winning book is tremendously important to many people. The book centers on a brave but wonderfully messy adolescent girl, Meg Murry, whose parents are both scientists. After her father disappears, Meg and a cadre of friends go on an adventure through the space-time continuum, talking about tesseracts and hanging out with Centaur-like beings. It’s a book that got a whole generation thinking about wormholes. Plus, as children’s books editor Pamela Paul wrote on the 50th anniversary of the book, Meg Murry has been a particularly influential character:
“It was under L’Engle’s influence that we willed ourselves to be like Meg Murry, the awkward girl who suffered through flyaway hair, braces and glasses but who was also and to a much greater degree concerned with the extent of her own intelligence, the whereabouts of her missing scientist father, the looming threat of conformity and, ultimately, the fate of the universe.”
A Wrinkle in Time will be Ava DuVernay’s fourth feature narrative film - Photo via Creative Commons
The script for the film adaptation will be penned by Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee, who says A Wrinkle In Time was one of her favorite books as a kid. According to Variety, “She impressed Disney executives with her take on the project, which emphasizes a strong female-driven narrative and creatively approaches the science fiction and world-building elements of the book.” More than 50 years after L’Engle originally published A Wrinkle in Time, it is still sadly rare to see female-centric sci-fi stories on the big screen. I wonder if Disney executives are paying attention to the success of characters like Star Wars’ Rey and the fact that 52 percent of all movie ticket-buyers are women.
Since A Wrinkle in Time is the first of five books featuring the same characters, I bet Disney is hoping on making a series here. The budget for the film is $35 million, which is lower than the budget for the best-known films in the “family-oriented franchise” genre (Frozen had a budget of $150 million), but is more than DuVernay had to work on with Selma, which cost $20 million. As we’ve already seen, DuVernay’s background in indie filmmaking means she knows how to produce stunning work on a tight budget. There’s no release date for A Wrinkle in Time yet, which means I’ll certainly have time to re-read the series in preparation.