Development News: Netflix tells a Jinn story, This Red Fire eyes the big screen, and more

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Feb 28, 2018, 5:43 PM EST

Netflix has just revealed plans for Jinn, a new original fantasy miniseries whose story and location filming will be staged in the Middle East. The globally-minded streaming giant is touting the supernatural young adult thriller as a story that pits a group of present-day Arab teenagers against a mythic ancient spirit bent on destroying the world.

Talent on the new project appears to help inform its Middle Eastern perspective: Jinn is headed up by Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya (Very Big Shot) and Jordanian screenwriter Bassel Ghandour (Theeb). Casting hasn’t been announced, but Netflix seems to be doing what it’s famous for: giving the creative team a wide berth when it comes to calling the shots.

In remarks for the announcement, Bou Chaaya described the series as “a great opportunity to portray Arab youth in a very unique way,” and that Netflix’s devotion to authenticity “is definitely what attracted me the most to be part of this project.”

Ghandour added that the series promises to offer a new take on a familiar regional theme: the Jinn story.

“It is very common in the Middle East that people know someone who has a Jinn story, so it’s nice to take that and turn it into a fun and mysterious teen adventure that everyone can enjoy,” he said. “I love that Netflix is investing a lot in the region, it’s a real turning point. We have such a rich storytelling culture, and we'll finally be able to enjoy Arabic content with Netflix quality.”

No firm release date has been announced, but Netflix promises Jinn will land sometime in 2019.


Turning to the big screen, it appears we may have a shot at seeing a film adaptation of the creepfest This Red Fire, Nicolina Torres’ murder-horror thriller that recently won an industry competition to be published as a book. While the book is indeed on track for a 2019 release, notes The Hollywood Reporter, it’s already been optioned for a movie as well. 

Stampede Ventures, the media company founded by former Warner Bros. boss Greg Silverman, has picked up the rights to This Red Fire. Torres’ story puts small-town Nebraska sheriff Evie Hartley in the role of a very isolated sort of mystery: Everyone in her town has been murdered, and two children have gone missing. 

There’s no word on when development on a movie version might start, but Silverman told THR he has high hopes for where the project can go. “We have been searching and searching for a great franchise character,” he said in a statement. “We are so excited to have found Evie Hartley and this amazing first story, This Red Fire.”


Finally, if you’re a fan of musicals about creative legends with magical minds, get ready for Fox 2000’s forthcoming production of a still-untitled live-action feature exploring the fictitious inner life of Hans Christian Andersen. 

While details are light, the project has brought out the big guns: Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz is scoring the project, Disney’s new Mary Poppins writer David Magee is scripting, and, reports Deadline, do-it-all actor and musician Ansel Elgort (The Divergent Series, Carrie) is being courted as an early casting lockdown.

Expect the project to mix Broadway and fantasy, while focusing on Andersen as a young man who wanders, via his own imagination, into a version of the world his mind has created. “[A]s Hans searches for a way back to reality, he comes face-to-face with characters from his own fairy tales, nearly all of whom try to trap him in their world forever,” per Deadline.

For now, there’s no word on a production timeline or release target, so stay tuned.

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