Zemeckis to helm Disney family-fantasy film Dark Life

Dark LifeVariety is reporting that director Robert Zemeckis (BACK TO THE FUTURE) is planning to help Walt Disney Studios launch a family-friendly fantasy franchise, based on the young adult novel DARK LIFE.

Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey will produce through ImageMovers with Jackie Levine shepherding the project for the shingle. Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Lee Stollman will produce through Gotham.

Whether the film will be produced using Zemeckis’ favored performance-capture process has yet to be determined. In a cost-cutting move, Disney last month said it will pull the plug on ImageMovers Digital, based in Marin County, Calif., by the end of the year once “Mars Needs Moms” wraps. The facility produced the performance-capture work on “The Polar Express,” “Beowulf” and “A Christmas Carol.”

The story is set in the near future, when the ocean level has risen so high that many people make their homes beneath the waves. Lead characters include a teenage boy who falls for a girl on the surface; the two team up to battle a government conspiracy.

Zemeckis’s ImageMovers is also developing Disney’s remake of YELLOW SUBMARINE, plus AIRMAN (based on a children’s book by Eoin Colfer) and THE STONEHEART TRILOGY, another young-adult fantasy, this one derived from a series by Charlie Fletcher.

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