By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 10, 2012 at 8:52PM
Even for a series of books with a youngish fanbase, it must have been dispiriting for those with a vested interest in "The 39 Clues," a series of adventure novels written by multiple authors, which number 15 to date, that Steven Spielberg, who was initially eying the project as a potential directorial effort, was replaced by cinephile bete noire Brett Ratner. While it's not a backslide of quite the same degree, the latest change in personnel on the long-gestating film can't delight too many fans either.
The books involve two siblings, Amy and Dan Cahill, who discover that their family has a long and powerful history, and set out on an epic global quest to retrieve the ingredients to a serum that can turn people superhuman. It's been something of a minor publishing phenomenon, with 8.5 million copies in print to date, in 24 different languages. Ratner came on to the project last year, but with the director getting ready to make "Hercules" with Dwayne Johnson, he's given way to another filmmaker who's less than a critical favorite; Shawn Levy, the man behind "Cheaper By The Dozen," "The Pink Panther" and "Date Night," among others.
According to Deadline, the director is currently closing a deal to helm the film, from a script by Jeff Nathanson ("Catch Me If You Can," "Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull"), and the hope is that it'll launch a franchise, as Levy did with the "Night at the Museum" series. As filmmakers go, Levy is far from the most popular among fans, but he's probably a slight improvement on Ratner ("Real Steel" was relatively well-received, although we didn't see it ourselves, because, you know, it was a film about robot boxing). Either way, we suspect that any fanbase that exists for these books aren't going to be kicking up too much of a fuss.
It's not going to be moving ahead straight away, as Levy's gearing up to direct the comedy "The Internship" with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, and he does have a new take of "Frankenstein" penned by "Chronicle" writer Max Landis in development too. But the heat certainly seems to be behind this, and one could assume that this will get before cameras in 2013 for a 2014 release.