With their first few features, including the wonderful Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Sony Pictures Animation have dabbled in standard 3D computer animation. In their latest project The Smurfs, they began experimenting by throwing live-action into the mix and it paid off, creating their most profitable film to date.

They have more family-friendly, standard animations including Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! Band of Misfits in the pipeline, but the studio is also planning a very different kind of project with a live-action mix. We reported on the R-rated, live-action/CG-hybrid adaptation of How To Survive A Garden Gnome Attack earlier this year, but now Deadline lets us know the project has been toned down to the PG-13 arena and two writers have come aboard.

Chad Damiani and JP Lavin have just been signed on to writer the film by producer Robert Zemeckis and his Imagemovers company, which has been responsible for his mo-cap films The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol and more. Damiani and Lavin may not be familiar names, but they’ve written a live-action version of the popular childrens TV show Max Steel as well as an adaptation of Geronimo, both of which have yet to be produced.

Zemeckis may direct the film that is based on the Chuck Sambuchino novel which acts as a survival guide, helping the owners of garden gnomes prepare for an invasion waged by the statues. I was excited for an R-rated feature, but PG-13 is still new territory for the animation studio. The director is currently deep into production on his live-action filmmaking return Flight, starring Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Tamara Tunie and James Badge Dale. With a late 2012 release, don’t expect him to jump on this anytime soon.

If he decides to take on this project down the line, he would certainly be familiar with the style after his breakthrough animation achievement Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as well as all of his motion-capture work. Based on the synopsis, I picture a Gremlins-esque adventure; something a bit darker and creepier that still has the sensibilities of his crowdpleasers.

Have you read the book? Are these writers a good fit?

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