Niles looks forward to at least '30 Days' of screen time

[30 Days of Night]Back in March we introduced you to "30 Days of Night" a three-issue horror comic by Steve Niles with art by Ben Templesmith and published through IDW Publishing. "30 Days" is the story of a small town in Alaska which experiences 30 days of total darkness. When this occurs and the town finds itself over run by the undead, the husband and wife Sheriff and Deputy team working in the city have a completely different type of criminal element to contend with. While the first issue hit the stands a month ago and the second issue is set to hit comic shops later this month, there's even bigger news for "30 Days" readers: it's gonna be a movie.

Daily Variety made it official today when they announced that Senator International, a production label specifically geared to produce modestly budgeted horror, sci-fi and fantasy films, has acquired the screen rights to "30 Days of Night" in a seven figure deal. The film will be produced by "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi and producing partner Rob Tapert with Joe Drake of Senator Intl. supervising its development. Senator Intl. will fully finance and handle worldwide distribution rights.

Now while the first book of the series may have only been out for a short time now, the journey this story traveled to get to the big screen has been a long one.

"I wrote the original film concept over eight years ago and it took doing it as a comic to get any attention," Niles told CBR News late Monday night. "My agent, Jon Levin at CAA sent [IDW Publishing's] Ted Adams and I all around town pitching the comic with several different producers attached. It all went shockingly well. A lot of people wanted it, but Sam Raimi won out. It was the best deal and it's SAM RAIMI!"

According to Daily Variety DreamWorks and MGM were also keenly interested in picking up "30 Days of Night," but ultimately Raimi and Senator Intl. won out. Niles will write the screenplay for the film version of "30 Days." Dark Horse Comics Publisher Mike Richardson brought Niles and the book to CAA and will serve as Executive Producer of the film. Richardson also EP'd "The Mask" and "Timecop," and produced "Mystery Men" and the upcoming "Hellboy," all based on comics. While Raimi will be producing, he will not direct "30 Days" due to production conflicts with the "Spider-Man" sequel.

Raimi told Daily Variety that "30 Days" is "so unlike the horror films of recent years."

To many familiar with Raimi's early films like those "Evil Dead" films and "Army of Darkness," you might think he's the perfect fit for "30 Days of Night." When Niles first heard Raimi had interest in the book, he didn't believe what he was hearing.

"I didn't believe it when Mike Richardson told me. I thought he was messing with me. After that my reaction was; my god Sam Raimi read my comic! I still can't believe it's happening. And yes, he's the perfect guy for the job."

Click to enlarge.

Niles told CBR News that Raimi has seen the first issue of "30 Days" and Niles shared the rest of the story with the producer over the phone. Their discussions so far have been mostly about the story and the characters.

It's well known that most comics that get optioned for film are based on super heroes. "30 Days of Night" is clearly not a super hero film which puts it in the same group with other recent comic based films like "Road to Perdition," "From Hell" and "Ghost World." While "30 Days" doesn't share anything thematically with the previously mentioned comics, it's an indication that Hollywood isn't just super hero happy even with the outrageous success of the "Spider-Man" film.

"I think it's fantastic. I think it shows that comics are a natural source for stories and art in all genres," said Niles.

Last August CBR spotlighted series artist Ben Templesmith during our "Artists on the Verge" series and now he's attached to a comic that's got big name producers behind it. It's been quite the year for the artist living down under.

"I got to tell him the news," said Niles. "I told him over Instant Messaging (Ben lives in Australia). It's hard to gauge a reaction on IM, but after I typed 'Sam Raimi' there was a very long pause."

The second issue of "30 Days of Night" will be available July 31st, just in time for San Diego, along with the second issue of Niles' other creator-owned comic, "Fused." As for interest in taking his other properties like "Fused" or "Cal MacDonald" to the big screen, Niles tells us currently there are some nibbles out there.

For more on "30 Days" of night, click here. For a Real Audio interview with Niles conducted March 27th, click here.

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