Kids of the 1990s were spoiled with memorable book franchises from Scholastic, including such properties as author R.L. Stine's Goosebumps, the U.S. version of the first Harry Potter books, and of course, Animorphs. The prolific Animorphs young adult sci-fi book series created by K. A. Applegate, once a staple on bookshelves and in backpacks, had somewhat fallen to the wayside since the series ended in 2001.
Sony Pictures is reported to be confident enough about its upcoming Goosebumps movie's box office prospects to have started early development on a sequel to the film. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures is reportedly interested in getting in on the '90s book nostalgia craze too, with a live-action feature film (one, no doubt, with franchise potential) based on Applegate's Animorphs book series.
The Tracking Board is reporting that an Animorphs feature film is, in fact, starting to move forward at Universal. The project is being overseen by Universal head Maradith Frenkel in conjunction with the newly formed Silvertongue Films production group. Silvertongue is of interest, because it was specifically formed to adapt Scholastic properties to film, as a part of a landmark three year deal with Universal; The company is helmed by Deborah Forte, a longtime producer of Scholastic TV shows - including the 1990s Goosebumps and Animorphs television adaptations - whose movie credits include The Indian in the Cupboard, Tuck Everlasting, The Golden Compass, and the upcoming Goosebumps film (starring Jack Black).
Neither a screenwriter nor a director has been attached to the Animorphs film yet, though TTB's report claims that Universal is looking for a writer/director with sci-fi genre moviemaking experience, with filmmakers like Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and Gavin Hood (Ender's Game) name-dropped as being "templates". For now, however, there do not appear to be any front-runners for the jobs.
Animorphs is a book series that encompasses 54 installments, released between 1996 and 2001; over half the books were written by Applegate, with the rest ghostwritten by other authors (drawing from her story outlines). The series revolves around a group of five teenagers (Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, and Tobias) that one night come upon a crashed spaceship, where they encounter a dying alien who grants them special powers - allowing them to shape-shift into any creature they have touched (read: absorbed their DNA) - in order to protect Earth from alien invaders that are known as Yeerks: slug-like parasites that embed themselves in the brains of their hosts.
There are certainly parallels between the Animorphs mythology and those of superhero properties (such as Green Lantern), as well as other '90s IPs that are currently making their way to the big screen in new iterations (be they Goosebumps or Power Rangers); meaning, now seems as good a time as any for an Animorphs movie to enter development. The live-action Animorphs TV series (which ran from 1998 to 2000 on Nickelodeon and YTV) was a decent success in its own right, as it even helped to launch the careers of cast members like X-Men franchise star and The Following alum Shawn Ashmore, as well as Paulo Costanzo (Royal Pains).
We'll bring you more information on the Animorphs film as it becomes available. In the meantime, Goosebumps will open in U.S. theaters on October 16, 2015.
Source: The Tracking Board