The rights to the short ghost story “Ernest” were just purchased by Legendary at auction, with director Christopher Landon (pictured above) attached to adapt it into a feature film. Landon directed the sharp, time-looping Groundhog Day horror riff Happy Death Day, which was both a surprise box-office hit and a critical success.
Landon also directed Burning Palms, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, after being primarily known as a screenwriter, where his credits include Disturbia and almost all of the Paranormal Activity sequels. So you can bet he knows ghosts, and that his horror chops are well honed.
That’s good, because the story, initially written by former Gizmodo editor-in-chief Geoff Manaugh and published on Vice, is terrifying. It also heavily features Jimmy Kimmel, but that’s besides the point.
In the story, ghosts are real, they go viral (with help from Kimmel), and their shenanigans go deeply, deeply wrong when the central ghost (Ernest, named for his resemblance to actor Ernest Borgnine) goes missing, along with a teen caught up in the media sensation. The mix of supernatural and futurism is seemingly a perfect fit for Landon, as he’s had to adapt his Paranormal Activities over a few cycles of new phones, laptops, and cameras.
Deadline reports that this deal came down to a standoff between Legendary, “Amblin, Studio 8, Sony, and Fox 2000,” with the genre-slanted production company coming out as the highest bidder.
No word yet on when production starts, or whether Kimmel will be playing himself.