As infatuated Hollywood has been with nostalgic sequels and reboots, these films have generally been a bit of a mixed bag. 2015’s Jurassic World and Goosebumps were successfully able to strike a chord with critics and audiences, winning over both long-time fans and newcomers of their respective franchises.
However, films like Pixels and Jem and The Holograms wound up leaving both fans and newbies scratching their heads at how little understanding or care the films gave their source material. Nevertheless, studios still have plenty of nostalgic movies in development. Lionsgate, for example, has highly-anticipated adaptations of both Power Rangers and My Little Pony planned for 2017. Moreover, it was just announced today that Lionsgate is planning to adapt another popular franchise. You may remember this one from your local library.
Earlier today, it was announced that Lionsgate has successfully secured the rights to all 54 books in Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series. This popular children’s novel series has been going strong for almost a quarter-century, and over 130 million copies have been sold.
Originally released in 1992, the book series centered around two young siblings named Jack and Annie who discover an enchanted tree house with magical books that can take them anywhere in time and space. They go back to the age of the dinosaurs, meet a crew of Caribbean pirates, and learn the secrets of the ninjas in ancient Japan. With dinosaurs, pirates, ninjas and more, this series pretty much had every awesome thing you could think of in it.
Lionsgate co-president Erik Feig said in a statement today:
“The Magic Tree House books have been cherished by generations of readers, including my own children. We’re thrilled to bring the genius of Mary Pope Osborne’s iconic stories to the screen for their tens of millions of fans and to introduce a whole new audience to their magic.”
Mary Pope Osbourne herself will serve as executive producer with her husband, Will. Will Osbourne will also be co-writing the screenplay with the help of playwright Jenny Laird.
The film series is set to start off with the 29th book: Christmas in Camelot. This book involves Jack and Annie coming across the titular treehouse and going on another adventure years after outgrowing it.
While starting a film adaptation with the 29th book in the series seems rather odd, it is actually more genius than you think. Since the plot involves the main characters re-visiting their childhood tree house, it could certainly connect to older audiences revisiting the book series years after reading it.
Hopefully after the success of last year’s Goosebumps, Lionsgate will learn from Sony and put together a competent tribute to a beloved book series. On the other hand, they could also make the same mistake Sony made with Pixels and put out a film that embarrasses the franchise in unfathomable ways. One canonly be hopeful that the former will be the case with The Magic Tree House film series.