After scoring with film adaptations of YA book series ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’, Lionsgate has acquired the rights to Mary Pope Osborne’s ‘Magic Tree House’ books.  There are 54 books in the series, plus 34 accompanying nonfiction ‘Fact Tracker’ books that provide factual reference about the subjects of the fantasy books.  The fact trackers are written by Osborne with her husband Will and sister Natalie Pope Boyce.  The script for the movie was written by Will Osborne with Chicago-based playwrite Jenny Laird.  The Osbornes are serving as executive-producers of the movie(s).

jack-annie-cobThe books feature the adventures of two young siblings, Jack and Annie as they travel through time in the titular Tree House having historical and educational adventures.  Beginning with the 29th book, the line bore the subtitle “The Merlin Missions” and the kids were often accompanied by two medieval sorcerer’s apprentices named Kathleen and Teddy.

The movie will apparently feature older versions of Jack and Annie as they are described as “rediscovering the tree house after having outgrown it.”  This may be an attempt to court an older audience.  Unlike ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’ which is already written for teens and adults, the ‘Magic Tree House’ books are expressly for elementary-age kids.  So unless a parent has kids that age, these movies probably won’t appeal, at least on name alone.

The first movie will be based on the 29th book, ‘Christmas In Camelot’, but Lionsgate has optioned all 54 books to potentially adapt!  (Ambitious much?!)

In a release announcing the film plans, Mary Pope Osborne said:

“Lionsgate has an impressive reputation for working closely with content creators, respecting and protecting their vision, and making them part of the creative process.  I’m thrilled to have partnered with them on bringing the ‘Magic Tree House’ books to life in a series of films that kids, parents and grandparents will all get to enjoy together.”

Lionsgate co-president Erik Feig added:

“We’re always looking for magical worlds to expand into potential motion picture franchises, and this is an iconic property that is beloved and recognizable around the world.  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.”

The book series has sold over 130 million books all over the world.  It appears to be particularly successful in Japan, where an anime movie was released in 2011.

Are you a fan of the books?  Are you excited that a movie series is being based on them?

Source: Entertainment Weekly