Fuse #8

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Books They'll Never Turn Into Films... And the Ones They Already Have

I've been looking through the various film projects currently in the works that involve kiddie lit and which may or may not yield some interesting films in the future. But such idle scanning sometimes means that I grow sad thinking of those wonderful titles that will never ever ever be turned into movies. Call me a cynical coot (coot, after all, is such a funny word) but there are some films that will never see the light of day to the detriment of all. I shall list them here in order of the indignation I feel.

  • The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm - by Nancy Farmer. Okay, everybody. I now need you to all raise your hands high high high above your heads when you can think of the answer to my question. Okay? Now who here can think of a single action movie for kids starring African-American child heroes? Anybody? Anybody? Yeah, that's what I thought. You can't. You can't and it's going to be a looooong time before Hollywood even considers the idea. But when it finally happens, I hope they at least have the good sense to consider this particularly fabulous book. It's futuristic, it has snappy writing, and I can see Morgan Freeman as The Arm.
  • Anything else Nancy Farmer ever wrote - Well, I mean it's just criminal that they haven't already. Anything will do (though I'm not entirely certain I'd have the guts to sit through The House of the Scorpion).
  • Archer's Goon - Miyazaki's film of Howl's Moving Castle proved that filming a Jones book can be done. How well Miyazaki did so is up for debate. Now I know you all have your favorite Jones books. You have your Chrestomanci fans, your Fire and Hemlock advocates, and your Dogsbody dog-lovers. But give me a big hulking goon who refuses to leave a kitchen table over all her other books combined. I love all her stuff, but Goon holds a special place in my heart.
  • A Wrinkle In Time - No no no. Do not inform me that they already made this into a film. I consider apocryphal any version of this tale in which Meg doesn't wear glasses. That and it was visual tripe.
  • A Wizard of Earthsea - Re: Already existing sucky versions, see A Wrinkle In Time up above. Oh... and what was the deal with making almost everyone white? So odd.
  • Fly By Night - They won't do it. They must do it. They won't do it. They must do it.
  • The Hounds of the Morrigan - So Irish and so very very good. You could totally do this book today. Just CGI the fox (hey, they did it in Narnia) and throw in two fabulous Irish actors and voila! Movie magic.
  • The Wizard of Oz - Bear with me on this one. I know you're all overly fond of the original, but I'm not talking musical here. I'm talking the original book. We have the technology to make a real tin man, and a real scarecrow, and a real cowardly lion. Take the aforementioned Narnia special effects and think what they could do to the Land of Oz! It boggles the mind. Plus you could get in all those crazy elements in the book that have never seen the silver screen before. Things like the Quadlings and the Dainty China Country.
  • Donuthead - Aw, why the heck not? It is, after all, one of the best books to come out in the last five years. And if they can film a good Holes...

And that's all I could come up with off the top of my head. So what is Hollywood actually making at the moment? Well, soon enough you'll be able to see these little wonders in your local cineplex. Whether you want to or not may be another matter entirely....

  • Ant Bully - I wasn't even aware that they'd adapted John Nickle's book into a film until I picked up my most recent Entertainment Weekly. Apparently Tom Hanks had a hand in the creation. Bears a slight resemblance to both Antz and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
  • Eragon - Sure, you knew they were filming it. You may even have known about Jeremy Irons, John Malcovich, and *sob* Djimon Hounsou. But did you know that Joss Stone would have a part? Yeah, neither did I. Never has a movie so deserved its "actress".
  • The Golden Compass - Here's the oh-so-useful imdb.com "Trivia" I found: " Writer Philip Pullman wants Nicole Kidman to play Mrs. Coulter and has indicated that he would like Jason Isaacs to portray Lord Asriel". I had heard the Kidman rumor. There is no way he's getting her, but it's a nice thought. Jason Isaacs would be a delicious Asriel. Yum yum yum, num num num.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles - Why oh why are they doing the first three books as a film and not all five together? Bad, Hollywood! No new starlets for you!
  • My Friend Flicka - Or, as imdb describes it, merely Flicka. For a fun time, click on screenwriter Mark Rosenthal's name to see what other films he's done in the past. A bunch of winners right there!
  • Hoot - So far Walden Media has been firing on all cylinders with surprising accuracy. Hoot could go either way. I'll be watching it closely. There's a review for it already at BookMoot, so check it out.
  • Charlotte's Web - I hadn't noticed that Andre 3000 was doing a voice before. Anyone remember who Elwyn is?
  • Punk Farm- This was a picture book by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Someone actually came in and asked for this book five days ago. My library has exactly one copy. I suspect we had better get more. The Shrek guys are going to work on it.
  • Where the Wild Things Are - Directed by Spike Jonze and screenplay by Dave Eggers. Well I, for one, am intrigued.
  • How To Eat Fried Worms - I've already ordered in 10 extra paperback copies for the old circulating collection here. And guess who's in the film? That's right. It's Clint Howard time. Aww yeah.
  • Bridge To Terebithia - Remember the girl who played Violet Beauregard in the latest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Looks like she's still getting work. And Zooey Deschanel is playing the teacher. So where's Will Ferrell? A thank you to The Disco Mermaids for the reminder.
  • The Wee Free Men - Earlier I posted that this would never be turned into a film. Oh, how wrong I was. A big thank you to the Book of the Day blog for pointing this puppy out to me. Sam Raimi is helming it and good things might well happen. I still say that David Hyde Pierce should be the lawyer toad's voice, though.
And that's all I could come up with. If any of you have any additions, I'll add 'em on as I go. These are just the titles that are currently in production. After all, just because a studio buys the rights to something, that doesn't mean they'll actually make a film out of it. Here's hoping my favorite movies get made someday.


At 12:28 PM , Blogger mapletree7 said...

I am so in love with Diana Wynne Jones. I can't even pick a favorite. Although Howl's Moving Castle would be close. The little town they come from reminds me so of 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg'.

This won't be Jeremy Iron's first appearance opposite a dragon. He also appeared in the abysmal 'Dungeons and Dragons' movie with Marlon Wayans and Thora Birch.

At 12:30 PM , Blogger mapletree7 said...

ooo, also, there ARE rumors about a Wee Free Men project. Sam Raimi is attached.

At 1:01 PM , Blogger Disco Mermaids said...

Bridge to Terabithia will be released next February. That's the one I'm looking forward to.

- Jay

At 3:05 PM , Blogger bookstore girl said...

I read an article somewhere or other about how they have been trying to make a movie of "Where the Wild Things Are" forever. Like, 20 years or some such. I hope that if it does get made, its in this current manifestation. Any movie that involves Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers sounds too good to be true!

At 3:29 PM , Blogger Jackie said...

You really like Donuthead that much?

At 3:32 PM , Blogger Bill Coughlan said...

I haven't seen it myself, but I've not heard much good said about the recent Wizard of Earthsea adaptation.

There is, of course, the animated Tales from Earthsea (aka Gedo Senki) being made by Studio Ghibli, though I understand that's most closely adapted from The Farthest Shore.

And it's still not "Hollywood."

At 5:03 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Another post for another time might be a list of the worst Hollywood versions of children's books. And "Earthsea" would definitely hit the top somewhere.

I'll adapt this post to include "Terebithia", "How To Eat Fried Worms" and the I-can't-believe-they're-actually-filming-this "Wee Free Men".

And yes. I love "Donuthead". If "Donuthead" were a religion I would prostrate myself before the icon of Franklin Delano Donuthead repeatedly. If you have not read this book, do so now. I mean it, people.

At 5:24 PM , Blogger Chris Barton said...

When I read His Dark Materials, I kept seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones as Mrs. Coulter and Sean Connery as Lord Asriel.

Yes, I know that their 57-year age difference (OK, 39 years) would make this icky. Or, at least, typical of Hollywood, and that's bad enough. But that's who I saw.

At 6:20 PM , Blogger web said...

When I saw previews for "Madagascar," my first thought was that they had ripped off Farmer's _The Warm Place_. It turned out not so - probably for the very reason you mention. :-\

I recall thinking the film of _Alan and Naomi_ was pretty decent.

At 2:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see rumours that Wes Anderson is making a stop-motion animation version of Roald Dahl's fantastic Mr Fox. This is one of the most under-rated Dahl books - largely overlooked by many people. If the rumours are true - I can't wait to see how they portray Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

At 3:08 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

I heard that rumor as well. In fact, there was a large article in the New York Times Magazine about a year and a half ago. In the article Anderson went to visit Dahl's old studio and talked about the possible "Mr. Fox" project. So far I haven't heard much buzz, but hopefully it's still going to happen.

At 4:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OXFORD, England, June 3, 2004 - Oxford University Press is excited to announce that Hollywood has fallen in love with their biggest book of 2004. Warner Bros. and ImageMovers have purchased film rights for "Measle and the Wrathmonk," the first novel for children by Ian Ogilvy, star of the Seventies TV show "Return of the Saint."

Quoted from movies.about.com

I really would love to see this one, the book is adorable.

At 8:08 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Ah, but full well I know that just buying movie rights does not necessarily a film make. From the 2004 date I'm skeptical too. A quick search of imdb.com unfortunately yielded nothing. If they're going to do anything with the title, they're taking their own sweet time. For the author's sake, I hope they remember soon.

At 5:25 PM , Blogger mapletree7 said...

Oh my goodness!


At 9:09 AM , Blogger jjk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:20 AM , Blogger jjk said...

a long delayed "thanks for the props". i was just doing a search on 'punk farm' and found this entry. and i'm so with you on the 'wizard of oz' idea. that would be incredible!!!

At 11:28 PM , Blogger Chip Chief said...

Neil Gaiman's Stardust is comingout next year. should be a good one.


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