Challenger Deep

Neal Shusterman‘s film and TV credits may not be much to write home about – he’s credited with the story on 1994’s Double Dragon and wrote episodes of Animorphs and Goosebumps, among other things – but as an author, he’s a prolific writer who won the National Book Award in 2015 for his novel Challenger Deep. Now that book, which has a pretty wild premise, is getting an adaptation on Disney+ courtesy of Will McCormack, one of the co-writers of this summer’s Toy Story 4.

Deadline has the story about the new Disney+ adaptation, though the outlet isn’t clear about whether this is going to be a TV series or a movie. Here’s the description of the plot:

Caden Bosch lives in two worlds; one is a life with family, friends and high school. It’s all good, but he’s paranoid for no reason, thinks people are trying to kill him, and demonstrates obsessive compulsive behaviors. In his other world, he’s part of the crew for a pirate captain on a voyage to the Challenger Deep, the ocean’s deepest trench. There is a captain and his mutinous parrot, and mutterings of his fellow shipmates as they sail uncharted waters toward unknown dangers, with Caden unable to understand.

Shusterman based the book on his son Brendan’s schizoaffective disorder and the book features Brendan’s illustrations throughout, so this is a deeply personal story for him. An old Hollywood Reporter article says he was once set to write the movie version himself for 20th Century Fox, but now the project will be adapted for Disney+ by Will McCormack, an actor/writer who co-wrote the solid 2012 indie drama Celeste & Jesse Forever with Rashida Jones and went on to co-write Toy Story 4 with her as well. (The writing duo left Toy Story 4 early in that film’s development, saying Pixar had a culture in which women and people of color’s voices were not given creative equality, but they both did enough work on the script to end up receiving credit in the final version.)

The story sounds like it could result in something visually dazzling, and reminds me a bit of the upcoming rotoscoped series for Amazon Prime Video called Undone. You can watch the first trailer for that here and read /Film managing editor Jacob Hall’s rave review of the first two episodes from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con right here. Here’s hoping Challenger Deep drops our jaws in a similar way.

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