EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment has struck a preemptive film rights deal for Whalefall, the next anticipated novel from bestseller Daniel Kraus. The deal for the book option was reached ahead of its August 8th publication by MTV Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Agreements of the sort are not frequently come upon these days, amidst the strikes in progress for SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, which kicked off earlier this summer. The idea here is, of course, to develop Whalefall for the big screen, at the point when Hollywood is again back up and running. No development will be done, and no writing services will be rendered here until new guild contracts are struck.
Already generating critical acclaim from early readers and immense buzz within the world of publishing, the book is described as The Martian meets 127 Hours. The story follows a scuba diver in search of his deceased father’s remains who gets swallowed by an 80-foot, 60-ton sperm whale and has only one hour to escape before his oxygen runs out. It’s a tale about a young man who has given up on life…only to find a reason to live in the most dangerous and unlikely of places.
The subject and setting of Whalefall bring to mind Imagine founder Ron Howard’s work as director and producer of Warner Bros’ In the Heart of the Sea, an examination of a whale’s 1820 sinking of a New England whaling vessel, which inspired the literary classic Moby Dick. Coming across the book in the early days of the WGA strike, as IP discovery became a major focus, Imagine’s Senior Vice President of Features Allan Mandelbaum spearheaded the acquisition and will oversee along with Karen Lunder, President of Features. The deal underlines Imagine’s continued commitment to finding meaningful and unique IP as they have a development canon of highly successful bestsellers, as well as their strategic content partnerships with The Washington Post and Major League Baseball.
3 Arts Entertainment’s Richard Abate and Will Rowbotham will add their expertise and creative vision to the adaptation process as exec producers alongside Imagine.
“We are thrilled to be entrusted with the adaptation of Whalefall. Daniel Kraus has crafted an extraordinary primordial adventure that is equal parts moving character study and edge of your seat thriller,” said Lunder and Mandelbaum in a statement to Deadline. “At Imagine, we are passionate about bringing stories to the screen that convey the full range of the human experience, and Whalefall is a perfect addition.”
Added EPs Abate and Rowbotham, “Whalefall is a story that stays with you after you turn the last page. We are excited to collaborate with Daniel Kraus and our friends at Imagine to bring this tale of courage and exploration to life on screen.”
A New York Times bestselling writer of novels, TV and film, known for his collaborations with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, Kraus teamed with The Shape of Water filmmaker on that Oscar-winning feature’s novelization, after working with Del Toro to develop the original idea for the film over a decade ago. Kraus also co-authored Trollhunters with Del Toro and saw that work of fantasy be developed into an Emmy-winning Netflix series, additionally collaborating with legendary filmmaker George A. Romero on the novel The Living Dead. Also behind The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, which was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Top Ten Books of the Year, Kraus had additionally won the Bram Stoker Award, the Scribe Award and two Odyssey Awards, at the same time seeing his works repeatedly named as Library Guild selections, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults and more.
Founded by Howard and Brian Grazer, Imagine Entertainment recently scored 14 Emmy nominations across film and TV for projects including Judy Blume Forever, Fire Island, The Other Two, The Ms. Pat Show, Bono & The Edge: A Sort Of Homecoming With Dave Letterman, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Light & Magic and Emily in Paris.
“I think it’s a real testament to the diversity of our teams,” Imagine Entertainment President Justin Wilkes told Deadline of the nominations. “When you look at just the breadth of the nominations — which range from A Black Lady Sketch Show, to Emily in Paris, to our great feature doc on Judy Blume, the Letterman-Zelenskyy interview — it really just shows off the full range of what Imagine’s doing as a company. I’m incredibly proud of it.”
Recently closing an exclusive multiyear first-look film deal with Amazon Studios, Imagine is currently in theaters and streaming on Apple TV+ with the dramedy The Beanie Bubble starring Zach Galifianakis, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Snook and Geraldine Visnawathan. Other recent and upcoming projects include the second season of Apple’s sports drama Swagger and the docuseries The Super Models bowing on Apple TV+ on September 20th.
Kraus is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment.