Production Begins on A Monster Calls, Starring Liam Neeson

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Production has begun on A Monster Calls, the new film from director Juan Antonio Bayona, Goya Award-winning director of The Impossible. Participant Media and River Road Entertainment are financing the Apaches Entertainment production, in association with Telecinco Cinema and La Trini Films. The film, adapted by Patrick Ness from his award-winning children’s fantasy novel, will be released by Focus Features domestically, Universal Pictures International for its theatrical and home entertainment release in Spain, and Lionsgate International is handling foreign sales throughout the rest of the world.

A Monster Calls is said to be “a visually spectacular” drama about 12-year-old Conor (newcomer Lewis MacDougall) who attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss and faith. The cast also includes Academy Award nominees Liam Neeson, who will star in performance-capture and voiceover as the nocturnally visiting monster of the title, and Sigourney Weaver, who will portray Conor’s maternal grandmother, Toby Kebbell as Conor’s father, and Geraldine Chaplin, who is making her third movie with Bayona.

“‘A Monster Calls’ is a beloved and iconic book, and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to create a world of monsters and fantasy that does it justice,” said Bayona, “I’m also delighted to rejoin much of my creative team from ‘The Impossible,’ and I couldn’t ask for a more talented and prestigious cast, and a more supportive group of studio partners, to help bring this incredible project to the screen.”

The creative team on A Monster Calls also includes production designer Eugenio Caballero, an Academy Award winner for Pan’s Labyrinth, who previously collaborated with the director on The Impossible, costume designer Steven Noble (The Theory of Everything), and cinematographer Óscar Faura, who shot both The Impossible and The Orphanage.

“Juan Antonio’s interpretation will bring this story into his own territory,” adds producer Belén Atienza (The Impossible). “Once again, we are making a movie with both huge technical challenges and a very intimate story that requires great sensitivity.”

ComingSoon.net had a chance to speak with Felicity Jones at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month for her upcoming Focus Features films The Theory of Everything, and she told us more about her role in Bayona’s new film:

“She’s a very young mother, single parent, and she had her son when she was really young, which is part of the story. It’s about how she’s dying from cancer and it’s half animation and it’s about the son and the mother dealing with that relationship. I was interested to explore a different relationship that wasn’t the love between a husband and a wife, and Bayona is one of the top directors in the world, so it’s a privilege to work with him.”

Jones also mentioned that the film would have some of the same horror and genre elements that Bayona became known for with his first film, The Orphanage.

A Monster Calls is being executive-produced by Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King, River Road’s Bill Pohlad and Mitch Horwits, Ness, and Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairman Patrick Wachsberger. Principal photography will take place in both Spain and England with the picture slated for a fall 2016 release.