Henry Selick Gives Up Animation For “A Tale Dark and Grimm”

Henry Selick has been unattached to a feature project since Disney busted his Shadow King film last summer. That situation changed today.

Selick has signed on to direct a live-action film based on A Tale Dark and Grimm, a children’s novel by Adam Gidwitz. The film, like the book, will follow Hansel and Gretel who escape their own fairy tale and end up participating in eight other creepy Grimm (and Grimm-inspired) fairy tales.

“I remain completely enraptured by Adam Gidwitz’ marvelous book A Tale Dark & Grimm,” Selick said in a press statement. “It’s a hilarious, deeply inventive tale about survival in the world of fairy tales and what it takes to forgive one’s parents. So it’s a huge thrill to be joining the team of Kamala Films and FilmNation as the director of the film based on it.”

It would be safe to say that Selick’s best works to date (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline) have been animated. His live-action track record is spottier: the partly-live James and the Giant Peach was generally well received and modestly successful at the box office, while his live-action/animated Monkeybone was a creative trainwreck of epic proportions.

John W. Mann and Jon Gunn (writers on the upcoming DreamWorks animated feature B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations) will adapt the Dark and Grimm screenplay with script input from Selick. The film will be produced by Kamala Films and the distribution company FilmNation.


  • Pedro Nakama

    This will probably be a great film. One thing that Henry doesn’t do is dumb things down for kids. You need to scare kids. Walt Disney did it all the time.

  • tedzey71

    I just can’t hold Monkeybone against Henry Sellick alone. There were too many things wrong with that flick, but somewhere in it was an interesting idea about the world of underground comics and their creators. Just got mucked up with stupid jokes and Brendan Fraisers’s butt taking up screen time!

    Otherwise, I love “James and the Giant Peach,” and actually thought the approach of an animated world and a live action one would be used in Coraline (interesting enough, I remember reading that’s what they originally planned but didn’t look convincing enough). I would love to see what he does with this project.

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    The premise sounds interesting enough. Honestly, I doubt it will be as awful as Monkeybone. (Why did you have to remind me it exists?) It’s also interesting and a bit concerning that so many animators have been switching over to live action recently. I’m not against people crossing over to other mediums, but it seems like several of them, like Brad Bird and Sylvain Comet, have been doing so because the studio system isn’t permitting them to create the type of animated films they want to make.

  • Marc Hendry

    Hey man, Monkeybone has some good stuff in it! It sucks that there’s now a half-finished Henry Selick movie that we’ll never get to see. I wonder if it’ll end up like the Thief and the Cobbler – with workprint bootlegs being passed around in circles of animators, students and geeks

    • Tim

      Even better: someone should take the finished bits of The Shadow King and cut them together with the finished bits of Me and My Shadow!

  • ZekeySpaceyLizard

    So does this mean The Shadow King is dead, then? Or simply in limbo until someone chucks up the dosh to fund it?

  • TheyCallMeShine

    AUGH! Another one… I’m coining the word “Birding”
    When an animator “Leaves the Nest” and “Grows Up” to do “Live-Action” films. Sigh.

  • Evan English

    I don’t see how working in live action is in any way “giving up” animation. Did he say that he would never work in animation again?

  • George Comerci

    A shame he’s leaving animation, but I’m sure this will be fantastic!

  • ari

    in a JUST world some billionaire would give Henry Selick all the money he wanted create things the man is a animation genius p.s harvest moon by neil young is a great song