Men in Black trilogy director Barry Sonnenfeld will helm the Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events series
Best known as the director of the Men in Black trilogy and the two Addams Family movies, Sonnenfeld was originally hired by Paramount Pictures in 2002 to helm the feature film version, which he developed with Daniel Handler (a.k.a. original author Lemony Snicket) scripting for producer Scott Rudin. However, despite having Jim Carrey lined up to star, Sonnenfeld and Rudin departed the project over budgetary restrictions, which led to the hiring of a different director and screenwriter for what eventually came out in 2004. Sonnenfeld’s love of the books and mastery of deadpan macabre comedy in his previous work makes him a perfect choice to direct the TV show, in what is a rare case in Hollywood of a filmmaker getting a second chance at a lost project.
Netflix has also hired Emmy-nominated former “True Blood” and “Nurse Jackie” producer Mark Hudis to act as showrunner. Hudis will also serve as executive producer with Sonnenfeld and Handler for Paramount Television.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” will recreate the darkly humorous visual world of Violet, Klaus, and little Sunny Baudelaire, three orphans who are doggedly pursued by their distant cousin/uncle Count Olaf. The books have collectively sold more than 60 million copies and have been translated into 41 languages.
The 2004 film was directed by Brad Silberling, who approached the material from a German expressionist/silent film/Edward Gorey-inspired visual palette, and also introduced the world to actress Emily Browning (Sucker Punch, Pompeii) as Violet. Despite grossing $209 million worldwide, the film was deemed too expensive to be profitable and plans for a Harry Potter-esque franchise were abandoned.
Sonnenfeld is currently directing the cat-centric comedy Nine Lives with Jennifer Garner and Kevin Spacey, and most recently directed the pilot for a proposed “Beverly Hills Cop” series at CBS in 2013, although it was ultimately not picked up for series in favor of bringing Eddie Murphy back for a planned fourth movie.