April 18, 2024

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EXCLUSIVE: USA Today bestselling author Shawn M. Warner‘s Leigh Howard and the Ghosts of Simmons-Pierce Manor has been optioned by Stars Collective, which will explore film and TV adaptations of the bestselling YA novel.

Described as R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps meets Nancy Drew, Leigh Howard is the tale of a teenage girl who teams up with a ghost with multiple personalities to solve the mystery of her parents’ murder. The book was published by Black Rose Writing in November 2022.

A former Army paratrooper-turned-author, Warner was thrust into the spotlight last year when a single TikTok video, depicting him signing copies of the book outside a Fort Worth, Texas grocery store and explaining its premise, went viral, garnering over 25 million views plus over 3 million likes and sending sales skyrocketing. In July 2023, the novel was the #1 Bestseller on Amazon Books, and the story was being covered in the national media by the likes of The Today Show. Ironically, Warner didn’t even have a TikTok account when word began spreading about his book, so it was his daughter that broke the news to him.

Warner’s newest novel Homeland Insecurity, about a group of teens getting caught in the crosshairs of an international terrorist, will be published later this year. We’re told a Leigh Howard sequel is also forthcoming.

“‘Leigh Howard’ is a masterfully written and astutely crafted story that extends seamlessly into a four quadrant franchise for film and TV,” Stars Collective founder Peter Luo told Deadline. “Our intent is to tell epic stories on screen and help expand this universe alongside Shawn.”

Stated Co-CEO Nancy Xu, “The phenomenon of this novel is real and there is palpable passion and affinity underpinning the virality. We’re attracted to strong IP that has universal appeal and ‘Leigh Howard’ has proven that it resonates with audiences around the world who would love to see versions played out in a movie or TV series.”

Added the book’s author, Warner, “We are excited to collaborate with Stars Collective to bring ‘Leigh Howard’ into a media production where audiences can participate in the hijinks and sleuthing of Leigh as she partners with a ghost with multiple personalities to solve the mystery of her parents’ murder.”

Founded by Luo in 2020, Stars Collective’s slate includes the films Every House is Haunted from Sam Raimi and Roy Lee, The Burden from James Wan and Sam Raimi, Hunting Season from Wan and Don Murphy, Wan’s The Call of Cthulhu, Mass Extinction and GMO, The Goxfather with Jon Chu, and Memory Lost in Space, based on the bestsellers by Tong Hua. Currently, the company is also working with Hana Management to develop three new original film franchises: the Genius Crime franchise, a Kung Fu universe, and a new horror franchise featuring female ghost stories inspired by Asian folklore and legends. Popular Thai actress Kitty Chicha stars in the first installment of the latter.

Paradigm repped Warner in the deal for rights to his book.

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