EXCLUSIVE: Armory Films has come on board to produce Unikorn, a feature adaptation of Don Handfield & Joshua Malkin’s original graphic novel which Armory developed and financed with Handfield and that Scout Comics/Simon & Schuster is publishing in 2021. The film will mark in-demand editor Debbie Berman’s directorial debut. Berman has been the go-to editor for Marvel for the past several years, working on such films as Captain Marvel and Black Panther.
“Unikorn has heart, humor and ultimately leaves you feeling inspired and hopeful, story elements which define some of our favorite films like The Goonies, ET and The Black Stallion, and feelings we are all desperately seeking more now than ever,“ said Armory Films co-founders Chris Lemole & Tim Zajaros. “With Debbie Berman at the helm, this film is destined to be a magical feel-good adventure that will be remembered for decades to come.”
In Unikorn, Maeve “Mae” Everhart inherits Percy, an old horse with a strange nub in the center of his forehead that makes her believe it’s a unikorn – a unicorn with a broken horn. She soon discovers the horn was removed for a reason – to keep Percy safe from those would exploit or harm him. Everhart must find the unicorn’s broken horn and prove to her skeptical father that her horse really is magical before everything she cares about is lost forever.
Handfield and Malkin will also adapt their graphic novel for the screen with Armory’s Lemole and Zajaros producing as well as Handfield through his Motor Content shingle.
Berman is one of the very few female editors working on big budget features, and has had a meteoric career rise over the last couple of years. This began with her first foray into Marvel Studios editing Spider-man: Homecoming and followed that up with Black Panther. While editing Black Panther, one of her major contributions was to guide the narrative and the performances in a way that accentuated a multitude of powerful, interesting and inspiring female characters. She would also work on Captain Marvel, the first female led film in their cinematic universe.
“I feel so incredibly fortunate to have worked with some brilliantly talented filmmakers who inspired me to push myself further as a creative. When I read the script for Unikorn, I realized it was the perfect feature for my directorial debut because it encompassed the most important things to me as a storyteller: it is full of heart and humor, has wonderful complex characters, and is quite simply a great story. Bonus points for exciting action scenes. I believe the magic of movies is how they can transport us out of reality and allow for pure escapism, and Unikorn is the perfect ride for that adventure,” said Berman. Debbie was selected as one of Variety’s ‘Artisans Elite’ in 2018, and is now in high demand as one of the most exciting new talents in Hollywood. She is represented by UTA and The Mirisch Agency.
Handfield is the co-creator of the History Channel drama series Knightfall. His first comic series The Rift was picked up by Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment, and lensed as the season finale of the recent Amazing Stories anthology reboot on Apple +, for which he also co-wrote the teleplay. Handfield has several other properties in active development at various companies including the upcoming YA graphic novel adventure series Loot.
“Unikorn’ was born when we both found ourselves dealing with the loss of a parent and wanted to create a story that could not only address our own pain, but also help our children process and deal with the subject in a manner that was full of hope, heart and wonder. We wanted this story to have the magic of an Amblin film, the heart of Disney classic, and the action-packed fun of a mini-Marvel movie, and can’t think of a better director to bring that vision to life than Debbie, who was such an integral part of three of the biggest franchises of all time,” said Handfield & Malkin in a joint statement.
Berman is repped by UTA and Malkin is repped by Echo Lake Entertainment.