Francis Lawrence to Shrink Down for In the Small

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Here’s another comics property that Francis Lawrence is said to be developing into a feature film, alongside the future-fied Sgt. Rock. If it comes to fruition, In the Small will be an adaptation of the Michael Hague graphic novel about an odd phenomenon called”the blue flash”, a kind of explosive cataclysm that shrinks any humans, and only humans, caught in its blast to 1/12 scale, as per a 6″ GI Joe. As far as I can tell from the info available online, the story focuses on a pair of the survivors, the teenaged siblings Mouse and Beat, who embark on separate quests while trying to survive a suddenly alien world filled with fresh dangers – ie. house cats, I’d guess.

Stories about man being removed from a position of privilege at the top of the food chain, be it by security breaches at the Dinosaur theme park, alien invasion or miniaturisation, are always rich with potential, I think. Unfortunately, a great deal of them fail to really get into the rich and resonant ideas lurking below the surface well enough. Time for another try, Hollywood.

Talking of subtext… that this blue flash effect happens to Mouse and Beat, in a) Manhattan and b) September and in an instant changes the world’s order, well, it positively invites a certain political reading, of course. Make up your own mind if that’s what Hague was getting at here. Having not read the source material, I’ve honestly got no idea how on the money that snap reading is, but I am very curious to see if it is either injected into, preserved or removed from the adaptation because it sure fits.

The project has been hanging out at Warner Bros. for a while where Akiva Goldsman (gulp) has already taken a pass at the script. Pajiba are now reporting that Lawrence is adding it to his little pile of going concerns. He’s definitely got the experience in doing out-of-phase renderings of our world, including New York, so I can see how he might have gone down well in a pitch meeting for this project.

I’m not sure if all of the ideas in the comic would translate cleanly to the screen – apparently, Mouse is a psychic who can see imperfect visions of the future and there are apparently some humans who become demons – but even if the story is simplified, and the cliff-hanger ending tidied up a little, there’s still a lot of scope to make a big movie here.

Incidentally, Alexander Payne was looking to mount his own picture about miniaturised humans, the infamous Downsizing, before it was apparently shelved over budgetary concerns. The script for that film also envisions how the world’s structure (practically, economically, existentially) is effected by our scale, though the story is massively different in almost every other respect.

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