Juan Jose Campanella, whose Argentinean film "The Secret in Their Eyes" won the foreign-language film Oscar this year, is making his English-language feature directing debut by tackling "Heck," an adaptation of a children's fantasy novel for Spyglass Entertainment.
"Heck," described as a kids' version of Dante's "Inferno," centers on a good boy named Milton Fauster who, with his shoplifting sister, dies in a freak accident and ends up in an unearthly reform school called Heck, where Lizzie Borden teaches home economics and Richard Nixon is the ethics teacher. Milton meets Virgil, a boy who has a map of the Nine Circles of Heck, and the two plot to escape the netherworld and its leader, the principal of darkness Bea "Elsa" Bubb.
The project will adapt the first book of the series, "Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go," written by Dale E. Basye and illustrated by Bob Dob. A second book, "Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck," was published last year, and a third book, "Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck," will be released next month.
Spyglass' Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jonathan Glickman are producing. Cassidy Lange, the company's vp production, brought in the project and will oversee.
Spyglass, which is looking at "Heck" as a big, effects-driven family adventure in the vein of "Beetlejuice," is zeroing on a writer to adapt the book; Campanella will supervise the writing.
Campanella has been working in the U.S. on the TV side of the business on and off for more than a decade. Repped by CAA, Protocol Entertainment and Stone Meyer Genow, he most recently directed episodes of Fox's "House" and NBC's "Law & Order: SVU."
Spyglass is in production on "The Tourist," a thriller starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp that the company is producing with GK Films. Spyglass also co-financed the upcoming comedies "Get Him to the Greek" and "Dinner for Schmucks" and is co-financing Ivan Reitman's untitled Paramount comedy.