Fox Falls for Joyce’s Leaf Men

Having tapped children’s author William Joyce to help design and produce its last feature, Robots, 20th Century Fox Animation will again collaborate with the Rolie Polie Olie creator on a feature toon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ice Age and Robots director Chris Wedge will direct a big-screen adaptation of Joyce’s kids’ book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.

In the Leaf Men book, an old woman takes ill and her garden falls into disorder, forcing the local bugs to summon the mythical Leaf Men to help them vanquish the evil Spider Queen and reestablish order. Joyce will adapt his book for the screen along with screenwriter Jim V. Hart (Sahara, Tuck Everlasting). The duo will also serve as exec producers, with Joyce handling production design as well.

On the new film, Wedge will again work closely with New York-based animation house Blue Sky Studios, which animated the Fox pics Ice Age, Robots and Ice Age: The Meltdown. The shop is now in production on a toon adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who, which Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino are directing for producer Wedge. Hayward’s credits include Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and A Bug’s Life. He met Martino (Oscar-winning vfx director for Total Recall) when they worked together on Robots. Horton is slated for release in 2008.

Fox has reportedly shelved its announced family pic based on Tor Seidler’s children’s book Wainscott Weasel, which Wedge was to direct. Illustrated by Fred Marcellino, Wainscott Weasel is described as a love story between an eccentric, eye-patch-wearing weasel and a beautiful bass, who is besieged by a hungry bird of prey as her pond is threatened by a drought.

Joyce is becoming quite the go-to guy for animated features. Disney is currently adapting his book A Day with Wilbur Robinson for its next big-screen CG pic, Meet the Robinsons, which Stephen J. Anderson (Toto Lost in New York) is directing for a March 30, 2007 release.