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Peacock developing live-action 'horror-adventure' series based on Casper the Friendly Ghost

The project hails from Kai Yu Wu, a veteran of Hannibal and The Flash.

By Josh Weiss
Christina Ricci in Casper (1995).

Peacock has decided to celebrate Halloween six months early this year with the rather spooky announcement of a live-action TV series based on the Casper the Friendly Ghost franchise.

Hailing from writer and executive producer Kai Yu Wu (Hannibal, The Flash), the in-development project — simply titled Casper at this current time — is described by the streaming platform as "a horror/adventure show that reimagines the origin of Casper in a coming-of-age story that explores what it means to be alive."

When a family of living humans (living being the operative word) arrives in the small town of Eternal Falls, the titular apparition with a friendly disposition finds himself at the center of a mystery, uncovering dark secrets that have been buried for over a century.

UCP (a division of Universal Studio Group) and DreamWorks Animation (owner of the Casper IP) are on board to produce.

Created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo in the late 1930s, Casper began life — or the afterlife, we should say — in a number of Paramount cartoons before he was scooped up by Harvey Entertainment, which produced its own content in the form of comic books and animated TV shows. 

The character first made the jump to the realm of live-action in a 1995 film adaptation starring Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman. Malachi Pearson voiced Casper's spectral form while Devon Sawa portrayed his human form near the end of the movie.

Directed by an up-and-coming Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events), produced by Steven Spielberg, and released into theaters by Universal Pictures, the movie scared up almost $300 million worldwide. A big screen sequel from writer-director Simon Wells (Balto) entered development, but never materialized. However, the film did spawn a cartoon series, a tie-in video game, and a pair of direct-to-video projects (1997's Casper: A Spirited Beginning and 1998's Casper Meets Wendy).

Reit, who passed away in 2001, was not involved with the feature, having sold the rights to the character to Paramount's Famous Studios in the 1940s for a sum of $200. "All I have is some nice memories and a little nostalgic sadness that I am not part of the movie," he said around film's release (via The New York Times). "My career went on in all sorts of interesting, fun ways. I'm not mourning or grieving over what I might have lost with Casper."

Peacock, Universal Pictures & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal