Kenneth Branagh to direct Artemis Fowl

The Tracking Board is reporting, and it has been confirmed by the author’s website, that Northern Irish Kenneth Branagh has signed on to direct Disney and The Weinstein Company’s adaptation of Wexford author Eoin Colfer’s best-selling series Artemis Fowl.

Artemis Fowl is the story of a 12-year-old millionaire, genius, criminal mastermind. who kidnaps a fairy (Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit) to harness her magic to save his family. But these aren’t the fairies of the bedtime stories  – they’re dangerous!

There’s been false dawns before for Artemis Fowl with Miramax purchasing the film rights in 2001, but since the initial script by Colfer was finalised in 2003 not much has happened. This time around Branagh will develop the property, with Irish playwright and I Went Down writer Conor McPherson on script duties. The project is still in early development as McPherson has yet to close a deal to adapt, but signs are pointing to in the right direction for the film to move forward.

Julie Rapaport and Julie Oh are producing for The Weinstein Company, with Tendo Nagenda and Jessica Virtue from Disney. Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal of Trbeca Films will executive produce the film.

Branagh is the go-to guy for Disney lately, having directed Thor and the Cinderella live-action adaptation. It was reported last year that locations in Ireland were being scouted, but that lack of sound-stages was hampering efforts. Disney will have time to keep looking as Branagh is scheduled to shoot Italian Shoes before production ramps up on this one.