Comic books have proven to be a successful niche for Hollywood to tap into; these days, the release of a new comic book movie seems to be a surefire way for studios to basically print stacks and stacks of money. While it’s not a great leap to get from comic books to comic strips, the little cousins of the comics industry have had a much harder raking in big box office bucks.
Various attempts over the years, like Garfield, Dennis the Menace, and Over the Hedge were met with varying degrees of success. But the overall success of last year’s The Peanuts Movie may indicate there’s life to be mined yet from this medium, and one production team’s latest acquisition, Russell Myers' Broom-Hilda strip, could signal hope for the comic strip movie niche.
According to Deadline, producers Gilbert Adler (Tales from the Crypt) and Jason A. Rosenberg have acquired the rights to the strip from Tribune Content Agency. The popular strip follows the trials and tribulations of the 1,500-year-old titular witch in her struggles to find a man to love her and to overcome problems with her weight. While the project has only just been announced, Adler and Rosenberg have high hopes for the acquisition, which they detailed in a statement made today. According to Rosenberg:
“Russell Myers has been entertaining audiences for years. We’re excited to bring this to the big screen. We plan to create a franchise and leverage the IP across film, television and digital media.”
Those are lofty ambitions, to be sure, but Adler shares his partner’s enthusiasm and offered details about their hopes for a potential franchise:
“Our intention is to make it into a movie that might have a number 2 and number 3 behind it as well. When you look at the comic strip, it looks like maybe it’s for a young audience, but we look at it differently. This is about a witch who has varying powers, but has a problem with weight. And if you look around, doesn’t everyone? And we thought, well that’s it. One of my favorite movies was Liar, Liar. It was funny but it was also heartwarming with the story about the relationship between a father and his son. With this project everyone is concerned about their weight whether they are over or under and that can be very funny yet poignant.”
Adler may have stumbled across the key to making a successful comic strip movie. Where previous adaptations have stumbled is in keeping the focus on a child demographic, making movies that young kids might enjoy but are a chore for parents to sit through. Crafting a film that’s as interesting to adults as it is children, like Pixar does, for instance, could give Broom-Hilda more staying power than other comic strip adaptations.
The overall content of the series may make that a difficult balance to achieve, however. Broom-Hilda herself is portrayed as the ex-wife of legendary ravager Attilla the Hun, and as a witch she regularly cavorts with the likes of trolls and ogres. Shrek, of course, was able to craft a successful franchise out of traditional storybook characters, so it’s not impossible. The key here will be in how they even things out. The same goes for Adler’s focus on Broom-Hilda’s weight and image problems, which could make for an intriguing premise if done correctly. On the one hand, Broom-Hilda could be used to send body-positive messages to the younger audiences, while parents can appreciate and relate to the struggles of weight loss and relationship woes.
It’s worth noting that the comic strip Broom-Hilda has been in syndication now for almost 50 years. Since its debut in 1970, Myers’s body-conscious witch has been delighting fans both young and old with her exploits and comedic takes on her problems. While this alone won’t necessarily translate into box office success, they’ve certainly got a big enough foundation to build upon.
Screen Rant will have more details for you on Broom-Hilda as they are made available.