Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Little Monsters’ (Photo credit: Ben King)

Universal Pictures has won a bidding war for a sci–fi action comedy from writer-director Abe Forsythe and Made Up Stories which will star Lupita Nyong’o — the creative team behind Little Monsters.

Miss Universe is described as a cross between Men In Black and Miss Congeniality, according to Deadline which broke the story.

Nyong’o will produce with Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky. Emil Stern, Sigmund Stern and Jeanne Snow will be executive producers.

The project germinated while Forsythe was in post on Little Monsters, for which Universal acquired the Australian rights.

“It’s a female-driven, very high concept sci-fi action comedy,” Matterson tells IF. The plan is to begin production next year, hopefully in Australia.

“We were thrilled with the responses (from the US studios) to Miss Universe,” Jodi says. “Little Monsters proved what Abe is capable of. If we can make the numbers work, we would hope to qualify for the Producer Offset and bring the project home.”

Little Monsters stars Alexander England as Dave, a washed-up musician who volunteers to chaperone his nephew’s kindergarten class field trip.

On the excursion he becomes smitten with plucky schoolteacher Miss Caroline (Nyong’o) but there is a rival for her affections in obnoxious kids show personality Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). They are confronted by a sudden zombie outbreak from which Dave and Miss Caroline must protect the kids.

Neon and Hulu jointly acquired US rights to the dark comedy after the world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Nyong’o’s star power has rocketed since her performances in the Jordan Peele-directed Us for Universal and Ryan Coogler’s Marvel blockbuster Black Panther.

She is attached to several projects including John Woo’s English-language remake of his 1989 cult film The Killer and 355, an international spy thriller from Universal and FilmNation that Simon Kinberg is directing, co-starring Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard.

Made Up Stories’ latest Aussie film, Robert Connolly’s crime thriller The Dry, which stars Eric Bana, Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell and John Polson, is in post.

Last month Screen Australia gave story development funding to an untitled Forsythe project, a mystery drama that centres on a remote Northern Territory town where everyone is a suspect. Made Up Stories will produce with Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley from LuckyChap Entertainment and Janice Williams.

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