MGM From The Dust Returns

Setting up Ray Bradbury adaptation

With Tim Burton's Dark Shadows out in cinemas today, it seems appropriate that we'd be talking about another weird family with somewhat gothy leanings. MGM has just picked up the rights to Ray Bradbury's From The Dust Returned. Nothing to do with that studio's near collapse and subsequent rebirth, it's instead about a human boy adopted by kindly monsters.

Bradbury's novel was first published in 2002, but its origins are much older, since it's a reworking of a handful of short stories that date back to 1946. The book collects the stories and adds new material and a framing narrative, in much the same way as Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (itself in development as a movie at Paramount). But in whatever form, the stories revolve around normal boy Timothy, and his relationship with The Elliots: vampire Uncle Einar, who has big wings but can't fly; mummified Great Grandmere who has lived for millennia; teleporting teenager Cecy; and so on.

If that all sounds a bit Addams Family (or a bit Munsters), the similarity has been noted already, not least by Bradbury and Charles Addams. Far from being cause for litigation though (Addams started drawing his creepy, kooky family in 1938) it led to collaboration. Addams illustrated the first Elliots story, Homecoming, for the women's magazine Madamoiselle when it was first published, and his artwork was used for the cover of the 2002 reworking.

Denise Di Novi (Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood) and Alison Greenspan (Monte Carlo) are producing, thanks to a previous relationship with Bradbury that saw them developing his The Illustrated Man with Zack Snyder. That one has now fallen by the wayside, but The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, and a new version of Fahrenheit 451 are all still rumbling through the Hollywood machine.