Disney+ has given a formal pilot order to Witch Mountain, a reimagining of the popular Disney film franchise, with Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World: Dominion), Isabel Gravitt (The Watcher) and Levi Miller (Streamline) set to star. The project hails from 12 Monkeys duo Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas, Davis Entertainment (The Blacklist) and ABC Signature.
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Also cast as series regulars in the pilot are Bianca “b” Norwood (We Crashed) and Jackson Kelly (Straight Man). Witch Mountain has Gravitt in first position. She also was a series regular on The Watcher, which originated as a limited series before being renewed for a second season by Netflix.
Witch Mountain has had a blinking pilot green light since March when Disney+ also commissioned the opening of a writers room for additional scripts.
Co-written by Fickett and Matalas, the series is a modern reinvention of the cult classic that takes place in the shadow of Witch Mountain, following two teens, Tia (Gravitt) and Ben (Miller) that develop strange abilities and discover their sleepy suburb may not be as idyllic as it seems.
Gravitt’s Tia is a straight-A student who’s regarded by her classmates as “perfect,” although she regards herself as flawed. She’s terrified of failure and is plagued by nightmares and fears that her late father’s schizophrenia is starting to exhibit itself in her. Tia has “hallucinations” in which people around her step outside their living bodies and voice their deepest, darkest fears and desires and rages.
Miller plays Ben, a troubled teen who makes ends meet by writing papers for other students but he’s got a hot temper and if he slugs another student, he’ll be expelled. Ben is best friends with Corey, his co-worker at the diner. He’s recently made a troubling discovery about himself, he can force others in his vicinity to move according to his will and there’s something drawing him inexplicably in the direction of Tia.
Howard stars as Audrey, Tia’s (Gravitt) devoted and loving mother. Her husband died from a mental illness and she tries to reassure a fretful Tia that she shows no sign of following her father’s dark spiral. A warm mama bear type, but like everyone in this town, not everything is as it seems.
Norwood portrays Corey, Ben’s closest friend, an outsider with tattoos, Corey is a very mature teen who comes across older than they are. They are one step away from expulsion and puts more care into looking like a My Chemical Romance song that became an anime fan. Corey works at the local diner alongside Ben and is in his circle of trust, but doesn’t appreciate it when he tries to act as their protector.
Kelly is Peter, Tia’s closest male friend. Peter is lovesick on the subject of Tia, but she’s unaware of his charms, and equally unaware of his devotion. But when Tia expresses her concerns about the seemingly impossible happenings around them, she learns that Peter’s observant, cautious nature might be an asset in figuring out the mystery around them.
Fickett and Matalas executive produce. Augustine Frizzell (Euphoria) will direct and is executive producer on the pilot. John Fox and John Davis of Davis Entertainment are executive producing as well as Gary Marsh. The Disney Branded Television series is produced by ABC Signature, part of Disney Television Studios.
The Disney film franchise is based on the 1968 novel, Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key. The films center around extraterrestrial children who must return to their home planet, while ensuing figures attempt to intercept the aliens before they can escape. The first film in the franchise, Escape To Witch Mountain, was released in 1975. It was followed by Return From Witch Mountain in 1978, Beyond Witch Mountain in 1982, Disney’s Escape To Witch Mountain in 1995 and Race To Witch Mountain in 2009.
Howard recently starred alongside Chris Pratt in Universal’s Jurassic World franchise and next stars in Matthew Vaughn’s spy thriller Argylle for Apple TV+. Earlier this year, Howard voiced the Star Wars character Yaddle in the animated Disney+ series Tales of the Jedi. Howard is repped by Entertainment 360, WME and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole.
Gravitt is known for her role as Ellie Brannock in The Watcher. She made her debut in CBS’ pilot The History of Us and had recurring roles in ABC’s American Housewife and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere. Gravitt is repped by Buchwald and Randy James Management.
Miller is best known for his roles in Pan, A Wrinkle in Time and Better Watch Out. Most recently, he was seen in the indie film Streamline, is also starring in Sony’s Kraven the Hunter, and is attached to the upcoming British indie Beach Boys. Miller is repped by Verve, Rogue Management in the UK, Eaton Management in Australia and attorneys Fred Toczek and Jared Bloc.
Norwood most recently starred in the New York Theatre Workshop production of American (Tele)visions. They can be seen in the AppleTV+ series We Crashed, as well as Showtime’s Let the Right One In, and can be heard voicing a lead role in the new QCODE fantasy podcast series Birds of Empire. Norwood is repped by Innovative and Authentic Talent and Literary Management.
Kelly will next be seen in a major recurring role in the upcoming AMC series Straight Man and in the cycling drama Hard Miles. He’s currently starring in the fifth installment of the Shudder franchise V/H/S/99. Kelly is repped by Talent Works and 11:11 Entertainment.
In TV, Davis Entertainment is behind NBC’s The Blacklist and Magnum PI as well as CBS’ The Equalizer and Netflix’s Blockbuster. The company has a Waterworld series adaptation in works at UCP.
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