Vancouver-based Rainmaker Entertainment is joining forces with family entertainment producer Jane Startz on the development and production of two family-oriented animated feature films.
Utilizing Rainmaker’s extensive CGI talents, the two films — Tiger’s Apprentice, based on Newbury Honor winner Laurence Yep’s best-selling young adult novel of the same title, and Far Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane, based on the children’s fantasy tale written by Paul Stewart and illustrated by Chris Riddell (which was also the winner of the Nestle Children’s Book Prize) — will be produced by Startz and Rainmaker Entertainment president and executive producer Catherine Winder, who announced the two film projects Wednesday.
“Jane is by far one of the most talented producers of family entertainment in both film and television, as evidenced by her work as the producer of Ella Enchanted, The Indian In The Cupboard, Tuck Everlasting and the multi-award winning The Magic School Bus,” said Winder. “She has also earned a reputation as one of the most respected producers of children’s book adaptations, and we are very pleased to be partnered with her on these two exciting literary properties, which both lend themselves to big-screen adventures and storytelling.”
Startz added: “I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to bring Tiger’s Apprentice to the big screen. The book’s mythology is so rich and one that has not been seen before. The rich storylines are further enhanced by visually exciting and complex characters. Fergus Crane is fresh and funny, and has all the elements to become a classic evergreen family film. I look forward to working with Catherine and the talented, creative forces at Rainmaker to adapt both these properties into exceptional movie going experiences.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Magee (Finding Neverland, The Life of Pi) has written the feature adaptation to Tiger’s Apprentice, the first book in a trilogy that follows the adventures of Asian-American teenager Tom Lee, whose beloved grandmother is killed trying to protect a rare and precious ageless object, which is then stolen by a mythical creature upon her death. Orphaned, Tom is put under the protection of Mr. Hu, a mystical tiger and three other creatures from the Chinese Zodiac — a monkey, a dragon and a rat — all of whom can also take human form. Together, Mr. Hu and his unlikely comrades have to train Tom to become a warrior capable of retreating the stolen treasure.
David Berenbaum (Elf, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Haunted Mansion) wrote the screenplay for Fergus Crane. The story is a rollicking comedic adventure that focuses on Fergus, a poor 10-year-old boy whose explorer father has mysteriously disappeared on his “last fateful voyage.” When pirates, passing themselves off as teachers offering Fergus and the other underprivileged children of his seaside town a free education, come searching for him, a mystery of epic proportions begins to unravel, and Fergus must leave the safety of his home on a fantastical voyage to save those he cares about.
In 1997, Startz formed her own independent production company, Jane Startz Productions, Inc., which specializes in developing and producing high-quality family-based properties across all media.
Prior to starting her own company, Startz was the co-founder and executive vice-president of Scholastic Productions, the film and television division of Scholastic Inc., the largest publisher of materials for young people in the English-speaking world. During Startz’s creative aegis, the company grew to be one of the preeminent producers of family entertainment.
Startz launched Scholastic Productions in the television series arena with the long running comedy series Charles in Charge, as well as the hugely popular children’s series The Magic School Bus. Startz has received over 50 major awards in the category of children’s and family programming. These include two Golden Globe Nominations, six Emmys, 10 Emmy Nominations, two Ace Awards, Parents Choice Awards, and an Action for Children’s Television Award.