Fox/Disney has acquired the film rights to the children’s book ‘The Garden of Abdul Grasazi’ by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote the classics ‘Jumanji’ and ‘The Polar Express’, both of which were previously adapted into successful movies. ‘The Garden of Abdul Grasazi’ was Van Allsburg’s first book, published in 1979 and winning the Caldecott Honor in 1980.
Darren Lemke, who co-wrote ‘Shazam!’ and the two ‘Goosebumps’ movies, is tackling the screenplay. Van Allsburg will serve as executive producer, while Mike Weber, Bill Teitler, and Ted Field were announced as producers, but no director is attached at this time.
In this book, which sports striking black and white illustrations, a young boy named Alan must venture into the topiary garden of the magician Abdul Gasazi in pursuit of his neighbor, Miss Hester’s dog, Fritz. In the garden, Alan discovers a mystical world.
While ‘Jumanji’ was adapted into the classic live-action movie starring Robin Williams in 1995, in 2004, Robert Zemeckis adapted ‘The Polar Express’ into a motion-capture CGI project, which didn’t work as well. It’s unknown how ‘The Garden of Abdul Grasazi’ will be adapted, but presumably it will be live-action. If it is to remain faithful to the book, it should be in black and white, but that would be a pretty risky move.
In 2017, Sony released ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’, which was not directly based on a Van Allsburg book (but he still got PAID!), a spiritual sequel to the 1995 picture, which went on to become Sony’s highest-grossing movie ever, topping the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise. A sequel has wrapped filming and is expected in theaters this Christmas. Jake Kasdan directed both, which star Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Nick Jonas. The follow-up also stars Awkwafina, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, and Dania Ramirez.
As far as I know (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), this is the first family-oriented project taken on by Fox since being bought by Disney, so it should be interesting to see how this develops and how a Fox-branded family picture will be different from a standard Disney release.
Check back for updates. Are you a fan of ‘The Garden of Abdul Gasazi’? Are you excited at the thought of a movie?