Kenneth Branagh To Direct 'Artemis Fowl'

The long-gestating Artemis Fowl adaptation has finally taken a big step forward. Kenneth Branagh has signed on to develop the sci-fi fantasy YA property, and is additionally attached to direct. Get all the details on the Kenneth Branagh Artemis Fowl news after the jump. 

The Tracking Board (via Variety) broke the news. Harvey Weinstein is producing Artemis Fowl with Branagh, and Judy Hofflund (Branagh's As You Like It) is attached to executive produce.

In addition, Irish writer Conor McPherson is in talks to pen the script. Though best known for his plays, McPherson has also written and directed movies. Most recently, he released the 2009 supernatural drama The Eclipse starring Ciarán Hinds and Iben Hjejle.

Artemis Fowl has been in development on and off for years. Miramax scooped up the rights way back in 2001, shortly after the first book was published. A few years later, Disney acquired the rights when it bought Miramax, but Artemis Fowl remained in development hell. There were some promising signs of life in 2011 when Jim Sheridan boarded as director, but he departed in 2013.

Written by Eoin Colfer, the book centers on 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl II, who's built a fortune through criminal dealings. He hatches a plan to extort gold from the Fairy People, but gets pulled in over his head. Though ruthless, manipulative, and cynical, Fowl isn't so much a villain as an antihero. Artemis Fowl comes with built-in franchise potential (because of course it does), with eight books in all.

As a director, Branagh is coming off of Cinderella, which turned out to be a $542 million hit for Disney. He also previously teamed with the studio on Thor, yet another hit fantasy film. His next project, however, likely won't be a Disney fantasy — he's currently attached to direct the Ridley Scott-produced adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.