Universal Pictures has been having a really good year and that's now showing by their willingness to jump in and save projects from other studios like the recent Dumb and Dumber sequel. That said, they're also looking ahead to new franchises and according to The Hollywood Reporter, they've now optioned the rights to Joe Hill's highly popular supernatural comic book series Locke & Key, published by IDW Publishing.
The project will be produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Bobby Cohen, who are having a strong summer sleeper hit with Now You See Me, through their Universal-based K/O Paper Products banner, along with Ted Adams, CEO and publisher of IDW Publishing.
It tells the the multi-generational stories of three siblings after the murder of their father which leads them to moving back into their ancestral home in Massachusetts which they discover has magical keys that give them special abilities even though others want to also get their hands on said keys.
The comics by Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez have led to multiple Eisner Awards nominations--Hill won an Eisner for his writing--as well as getting the graphic novel collections onto the New York Times bestseller list, which ultimately led to there being a lot of interest in Hollywood to adapt the graphic novels for a number of years.
Dimension Films previously owned the rights, which expired in 2010, and Kurtzman and Orci jumped in to possibly turn the comics into a television series, but it was held back by budget restrictions. Universal brings new hope for the feature film and a possible franchise if the initial film does well.
As it happens, Hill has supernatural fiction in his blood, being the son of noted horror author Stephen King, and having written his own novels Heart-Shaped Box and NOS4A2.