Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus lands feature length film deal

The Magic School Bus is heading to the big screen for the first time in its 26-year history, thanks to a new deal between Scholastic Entertainment, Brownstone Productions, Marc Platt Productions, and Universal Pictures.

The feature length, live action hybrid film will star Elizabeth Banks as the widely-popular Ms Frizzle. Banks will also take on a producer role alongside Max Handelman for Brownstone Productions, as well as Scholastic’s president and chief strategy officer Iole Luchesse and SVP and general manager, Caitlin Friedman.

“We are delighted to bring to life the iconic Ms. Frizzle and her zest for knowledge and adventure in a fresh new way that inspires the next generation of kids to explore science and supports the dedicated teachers who help make science real and accessible for young learners every day,” said Lucchese.

“We’re also extremely excited to be working with such top-tier partners as Elizabeth Banks, Marc Platt Productions, Brownstone Productions, Universal Pictures, and all of the amazing talent assembled for this noteworthy feature film.”

Ryan Christians from Marc Platt Productions will oversee production with Sara Scott and Lexi Barta from Universal Pictures.

The upcoming The Magic School Bus film is based on the best-selling Scholastic book series by author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen, now with over 80 million books in print worldwide. The science-focused series features the intrepid Ms. Frizzle and her class, who set out on field trips in their familiar-looking yellow school bus that magically transforms into a plane, submarine, spaceship, or surfboard, depending on the science concept being explored.

The popular books were first adapted into an animated TV series, featuring Lily Tomlin in the starring role as Ms. Frizzle, on PBS in 1994. The show aired for 18 consecutive years in the US and has been broadcast in more than 100 countries around the world, making it the longest-running kids science series in history

The standout program has earned more than 100 prestigious awards, including an Emmy Award, Annenberg Award and National Education Association Award. The Magic School Bus has also garnered high praise from parents and educators for making science education fun and appealing to all audiences.

An animated sequel to the original series, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, featuring Kate McKinnon (SNL) as Ms. Frizzle’s sister, Fiona, debuted on Netflix in 2017. Multi-award-winning composer/lyricist/playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights) sang the theme song.

Scholastic Entertainment to co-produce and develop Animorphs feature film with PictureStart

The popular ’90s book series, Animorphs has landed its first live-action motion picture deal, thanks to a new partnership between Scholastic Entertainment and PictureStart that will bring the 54 book series to a new generation of fans.

Written by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, the Animorphs book series has sold more than 35 million copies in its lifetime. The new feature film venture will be jointly produced and developed by Scholastic Entertainment’s president and chief strategy officer, Iole Lucchese, and SVP and general manager Caitlin Friedman, and PictureStart’s founder and CEO, Erik Feig and EVP, production, Lucy Kitada.

Overseeing script development will be Scholastic Entertainment’s Friedman with PictureStart’s creative executive Royce Reeves Darby.

“The central themes of Animorphs have resonated strongly with kids for more than two decades, and the time is right for a feature film that takes this captivating sci-fi adventure to another level for audiences today,” said Lucchese. “PictureStart has an incredible track record of success, and Erik and his team are the perfect partners to help bring this exciting new series based on the adventure-packed books to movie screens.”

Feig added: “We couldn’t be more excited to work with Scholastic to adapt Animorphs, an iconic book series with a wildly unique combination of exciting, witty, outlandish and grounded elements that feel all too relevant for our times.

“We know these books have a deservedly deep bench of passionate fans – ourselves included – and we hope to make Katherine Applegate and her co-author, Michael Grant, proud as we bring Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, and Tobias to life for a new generation.”

In addition to the film, Scholastic will launch a graphic novel adaptation of the Animorphs series via its Scholastic Graphix imprint on October 6.

Scholastic will also introduce a Retro Box Tin this fall, featuring the first six books in the Animorphs series, all in their original ‘90s covers. The titles in the collectable tin will include: The Invasion, The Visitor, The Encounter, The Message, The Predator, and The Capture.

Animorphs was a seminal read for millennials going through adolescence in the ‘90s, with many readers identifying with the intense and gritty themes of the sci-fi war stories. The main plot revolves around five teens – Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, and Tobias – who can each morph into any animal they touch in order to fight a secret alien invasion. Each adventure deftly balances humour and fun with much heavier questions about mortality, war, and sacrifice.

Animorphs was published by Scholastic from 1996 to 2001 and then partly re-issued between 2011 and 2012 with lenticular versions of the memorable covers featuring the main characters gradually morphing into animals or insects.