Canadian kids’ & family entertainment co. WildBrain has signed an overall first-look deal with acclaimed producer Bonnie Arnold (How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story).
Academy Award and BAFTA nominee Arnold will spearhead numerous episodic projects, TV specials and features for WildBrain. Initial projects include Which Way to Anywhere, the latest novel from Cressida Cowell, the bestselling author of the How to Train Your Dragon series, as well as Cowell’s Emily Brown picture books. WildBrain has exclusively optioned both properties from Cowell.
“I love the unconventional characters and exciting worlds that Cressida creates. I’m thrilled to be working with her again on such a fresh and imaginative story,” said Arnold. “Which Way to Anywhere has all the right ingredients — comedy, heart and a little bit of magic too. WildBrain is an ideal partner for this and Emily Brown. Eric and the wonderful team at WildBrain Studios have so much experience creating outstanding family programming. I look forward to working with them in bringing these and other captivating stories that I am passionate about to the screen.”
Arnold produced all three blockbuster How to Train Your Dragon movies for DreamWorks Animation, based on Cowell’s bestselling novels, which have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. The Dragons film franchise has grossed more than US$1.6 billion worldwide.
Cowell’s newest work, Which Way to Anywhere, was published in September 2022 by Hachette Children’s Group and immediately shot to the top of the Children’s and YA Fiction bestsellers lists in the U.K. The first in a new book series from Cowell, the novel has been heralded by The Times of London as “pacey, thrill-packed and highly imaginative” and by The Telegraph as a “joyously anarchic story.”
Synopsis: K2 O’Hero is a seemingly ordinary boy — after all, he and his twin sister Izzabird have been sworn to keep their family’s magical history a secret. Not even their infuriating stepsiblings, Theo and Mabel, know that magic exists. They believe K2 to be the most hopeless person they have ever known.
But K2 has a secret gift: he draws maps of worlds that are beyond the wildest of imaginations. Worlds with 600 moons, burning rivers and dark, twisty jungles alive with plants that hunt by the smell of fear. What K2 doesn’t know, is that the maps he draws are real.
When their baby sister Annipeck is kidnapped, the warring stepsiblings will have to use K2’s gift to find a crossing point into one of those worlds and embark on a daring rescue mission. With a terrible beast and a petrifying robot assassin in their way, they must learn to work together quickly — because the future of their family is at stake.
The critically acclaimed and award-winning five-volume Emily Brown picture-book series, which is illustrated by Neal Layton and follows Emily and her toy rabbit, Stanley, as they embark on intrepid adventures to help others, has been sold worldwide by Hachette Children’s Group.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled that we’ve reunited Bonnie Arnold with Cressida Cowell for two terrific new projects at WildBrain. Bonnie is a treasure in the world of animation, combining not only outstanding creative and storytelling vision, but also a keen commercial sensibility,” said WildBrain CEO Eric Ellenbogen. “Given her stewardship of the Dragons franchise, there’s no one better to bring Cressida’s splendid new novel, Which Way to Anywhere, to life on screen. Welcoming a producer of Bonnie’s exceptional taste and experience into the WildBrain fold will further elevate our creative slate both in scope and ambition.”
Cowell commented, “I have worked with Bonnie Arnold for over a decade with the How to Train Your Dragon movies: she’s a powerhouse of creativity and commercial instinct. I’m delighted to be partnering with her and the ambition, imagination and vision of WildBrain to bring Which Way to Anywhere and Emily Brown to screen.”
Two-time Academy Award nominee Bonnie Arnold is a veteran filmmaker and a leading force in imaginative storytelling. As an accomplished producer in almost every genre, the combined global revenue for the films that Arnold has produced totals more than US$2.2 billion at the box office.
Arnold most recently produced the Academy Award-nominated animated How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Previously, Arnold served as Co-President of Features at DreamWorks Animation, overseeing an impressive slate that included such successes as Kung Fu Panda 3, Trolls and The Boss Baby.
Arnold’s broad range as a producer spans from Disney’s history-making animated feature, Toy Story, to Sony Pictures Classics’ The Last Station. Additional credits include DreamWorks Animation’s Over the Hedge, Disney’s Tarzan, Best Picture Oscar winner Dances with Wolves and hit comedy The Addams Family.