Ghost Squad. Ghost Squad.

A decade after being unceremoniously kicked out of the director’s chair on Pixar’s Brave, Brenda Chapman is making a semi-comeback to animation. She is set to write and direct a new hybrid feature, Ghost Squad, based on Claribel Ortega’s forthcoming novel of the same name.

The official synopsis is as follows:

For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Ghost Squad follows Lucely and her best friend, Syd, two outcast kids living in the famously old St. Augustine, Florida. In efforts to right a past wrong-doing, the pair casts a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits right before Halloween. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witchy grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town — and Lucely’s firefly ancestors — before it’s too late.

Brenda Chapman
The film is being produced by Scholastic Entertainment, Josephson Entertainment, and ‘Twas Entertainment. The last company was founded by Chapman and her husband Kevin Lima, who worked alongside her at Disney in the 1980s and 1990s. He went on to direct the likes of Tarzan and 102 Dalmatians, while Chapman left for Dreamworks, where she co-directed The Prince of Egypt, thus becoming the first woman to helm an animated feature at a major studio.

Chapman broke another glass ceiling when Pixar put her in charge of Brave, making her the first woman to direct a feature at the studio. However, in a turn of events first reported by Cartoon Brew, she was replaced by Mark Andrews during production. She later accused John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer at the time, of micromanaging the studio and creating a rift between them.

Chapman was still credited as co-director on Brave, and thus became the first woman to receive an Oscar for best animated feature when the film triumphed in 2013. After stints at Lucasfilm and Dreamworks (again), she directed her first live-action feature Come Away, a prequel of sorts to both Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. The film premiered at Sundance last month to mixed reviews.

Ghost Squad is produced by Lima and ‘Twas vice-president Josie Rosen, Josephson Entertainment’s Barry Josephson and D. Matt Geller, and Scholastic Entertainment’s Iole Lucchese and Caitlin Friedman. Scholastic Entertainment is the media division of Scholastic, the publishing behemoth behind Ortega’s novel. It remains to be seen exactly how the film will blend animation and live action.

"Ghost Squad" concept art: tree
Concept art for “Ghost Squad.” Artist unidentified.

In a statement, Chapman said, “I am thrilled to work with Scholastic, Josephson Entertainment, and ‘Twas Entertainment to bring to life the fantastical world created by Claribel Ortega. Her dynamic characters and the setting of St. Augustine make adapting Ghost Squad a unique and wonderful opportunity.”

Said Josephson, “I’ve wanted to work with Brenda Chapman ever since our daughter Shira declared Brave’s Merida her favorite kick-ass female character ever! We’re very fortunate that Scholastic has invited us to produce Ghost Squad alongside them. We cannot wait to launch this completely original franchise.”

Concept art for "Ghost Squad." Artist unidentified.
Concept art for “Ghost Squad.” Artist unidentified.

Scholastic’s Lucchese added, “We are so excited about bringing Ghost Squad to the big screen. This standout book will be a huge hit with readers everywhere. We are delighted to be working with such high-caliber talent, including Brenda and Barry, to make this story come to life for kids and families everywhere.”

No release date has been announced for the film. The novel hits shelves in April.

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