Stuart Beattie Finds ‘Tomorrow’
Posted by Brian on 06/17/2009
Screenwriter Stuart Beattie (Collateral, GI Joe: Rise Of Cobra) is gearing up for his first directorial effort, an adaptation of the young-adult novel Tomorrow, When the War Began. Beattie also wrote the screenplay. The first novel in a popular series of seven written by Australian John Marsden and published from 1994-99, “The Tomorrow Series” details the insurgency efforts of a band of Aussie teenagers fighting off an enemy invasion and occupation of their homeland. “It’s coming of age in a war zone,” said Beattie, who said he has read and loved all the books. The main character is a teen named Ellie Linton, who struggles to become a fierce leader even while navigating relationships with the seven other teenagers in her group. “Australia hasn’t made an action movie, I think, since ‘Mad Max,'” said Beattie. “It’s the opportunity to do something in the biggest sense. And it’s only doable because there is this great property out there that everyone in Australia knows.”
In an interesting move, the filmmakers plan to make a trilogy of features from the first three books and then, if successful, spin the next four off into a TV series. The production is taking advantage of Aussie government money as well as a 40% tax break for shooting locally, though Paramount Vantage will co-finance and handle worldwide distribution. Beattie is casting and crewing up for a September shoot Down Under. Sydney-based Omnilab Media (Dead of Night) is financing and will handle the sizable visual effects through its company Iloura, which worked on Australia.
“The Tomorrow Series” is one of the most popular Australian series ever published; the books are taught in schools there. Most of them were not available stateside until recently, but the filmmakers hope to persuade Scholastic to reprint them in tandem with the movie’s launch. Beattie is aware of the inevitable comparisons to the American version, Red Dawn, which played out the Cold War scenario of Midwestern American high school kids fighting off Soviet and Cuban invaders. A remake is currently in pre-production, but Beattie isn’t concerned. “Do you remember when ‘The Full Monty’ and ‘Striptease’ were coming out together? They came out within months as the exact same premise — the parent strips for money so they can see their kid. But completely different. One was all flash and rockin’ body, and the other was completely the opposite, of total insecurity about getting up onstage. We’re more like the ‘Full Monty’ version.”