Actor Idris Elba will follow his directorial debut Yardie with an adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, with the story being set in modern times. In addition to directing, Elba will star in the film and also produce, with Michael Mitnick updating a screenplay adaptation, which will be coming to Netflix.
In the story, the hunchback Quasimodo is relegated to living in a chapel as his disfigurements have caused society to shun him. The gypsy Esmerelda sees him for who he really is, with the two striking up a touching relationship.
The novel has been adapted into a number of films, with one of the more popular being Disney's 1996 animated musical. That film, which starred Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, and Jason Alexander, earned a direct-to-video sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, in 2002.
Another iconic adaptation of the story came in 1923 from Universal Pictures, which starred Lon Chaney. The storyline was rumored to be included in the studio's launch of the Dark Universe last year, which featured reboots of the studio's most iconic monsters, ranging from Dracula to the Invisible Man. Unfortunately, the big-budget plans for Quasimodo were dashed when the first chapter in the franchise, The Mummy, was both a critical and financial disappointment.
The film ultimately took in $80 million domestically, though it fared much better overseas, raking in nearly $330 million in foreign markets, despite only earning 15 percent positive reviews on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
The studio has been relatively silent on the fate of Quasimodo and his fellow monsters, yet a statement from the studio last fall teased that they have learned from their mistakes at crafting the shared universe.
"We've learned many lessons throughout the creative process on Dark Universe so far, and we are viewing these titles as filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision," Universal president of production Peter Cramer shared with The Hollywood Reporter. "We are not rushing to meet a release date and will move forward with these films when we feel they are the best versions of themselves."
In the '50s, the live-action rights to the novel were reverted to public domain, with Universal no longer holding exclusive rights to the property, though this new adaptation will likely prevent the studio from tackling the story anytime soon.
Stay tuned for details about Elba's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
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