The Phantom Tollbooth
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Credit: Bullseye Books

Development: Phantom Tollbooth lands director, Hereditary helmer's follow-up sets release date; Spongebob gets an origin story

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Dec 4, 2018, 5:18 PM EST (Updated)

Welcome to SYFY WIRE's development roundup / "Oops! All Movies" edition! In our latest slew of entertainment news, we've got everything from horror, to talking sea creatures, to the film adaptation of a beloved classic book. The tension must be killing you, so we'll get started.


Hereditary director Ari Aster's next feature has an official release date from A24 Pictures: Aug. 9, 2019, per /Film. That's less than a year away!

The currently untitled horror movie stars Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, Florence Pugh, Vilhem Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Ellora Torchia, and Archie Madekwe. The story follows a couple who travel to a remote Swedish village only to discover that its citizens are the members of a horrific pagan cult.

Aster was already in preproduction for the film back in June, when he told The Hollywood Reporter that it would be shot in Hungary.

"It's Scandinavian folk horror," he said. "That is the only other horror movie I have. And I'm pretty sure that's going to be it for a long time."


Up second, we've got a brand-new SpongeBob SquarePants movie from Paramount Pictures' animation department. SYFY WIRE has confirmed that the third feature film to be based on the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon will be an origin story, and feature a score composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer.

Titled It's A Wonderful Sponge, the project is slated for July 17, 2020. Per Collider, the plot will reportedly revolve around our porous protagonist meeting his Bikini Bottom friends for the first time at a summer camp, Camp Coral.


Walking up to the plate next is the long-awaited film adaptation of Norton Juster's classic 1988 fantasy novel for young readers, The Phantom Tollbooth.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Carlos Saldanha (Ferdinand) will helm the movie for Tri-Star. Saldanha took over for Matt Shakman (Game of Thrones), who ended up having to pass on the project due to reported scheduling conflicts.

The film is going to be live-action, its latest draft penned by Ted Melfi (Rio). Screenwriters Michael Vukadinovich (Marvel's Runaways) and Phil Johnston (Zootopia) have also been involved.

First published in 1961, The Phantom Tollbooth follows Milo, a bored young man who finds himself in another, fantastical world when a tollbooth appears in his room. Featuring touches of Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll, the novel explores abstract concepts like time and figures of speech. On his adventures, Milo is joined by Tock, a giant dog with a clock embedded in his body. Moreover, the instantly recognizable wacky illustrations by Jules Feiffer make the reading experience all that more enjoyable for kids.


Lastly, High Octane Pictures has snatched up the U.S. distribution rights to The Bobot, a Ukrainian sci-fi project targeted toward families, writes Variety. Directed by Max Ksjonda, it follows Vlad, a boy "caught in a conflict between two alien forces" who teams up "with Bobot, an electric transformer box, to prevent a global disaster."

“This is a film we’ve been tracking since we first heard of its development and could not be happier to be working with the wonderful team over at LevelK in addition to the insanely talented filmmakers who brought The Bobot to life,” said High Octane Pictures president Galen Christy, per Variety.

High Octane plans to release the film "during the second quarter of 2019."