Animorphs Movie Loses Original Book Writers Over Creative Differences

Animorphs books fans rejoiced when it was announced that the series was going to get a live-action film under Scholastic and Step up producer Erik Feig’s production company Picturestart. Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, who co-wrote the original book series under the pseudonym K.A. Applegate, were also attached to the project as creative voices. Unfortunately, the writing duo recently took to Twitter to announce their exit from the project.

#ANIMORPHSmovie update: With great sadness we have decided not to participate further in the @picturestart effort. We may post a full explanation on Reddit later, but for now let’s go with ‘creative differences.’ If you want the general idea see:”

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The Tweet linked to a page on the official website of Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, where Riordan explained how he was forced to step away from the movie adaptations of his novels after it became clear that the studio was not interested in listening to his opinion on how to adapt his story for the films.

The implication is clear, that Applegate and Grant were left unsatisfied with the direction in which the movie adaptation of Animorphs is going, and thus decided to exit the project. This makes it the second time in recent memory where a live-action adaptation of a beloved children’s series parted ways with the creators of the series, with Netflix’s upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series also undergoing a similar controversy.

The Animorphs novels told the story of a group of teenagers, Jake, Marco, Rachel, Tobias, and Cassie, who come to learn of a secret invasion of Earth by alien parasites taking place under everyone’s noses. The five teens are granted the power to transform into any animal they touch, and use this ability to wage a bloody war against the parasites, with the help of another alien named Ax.

The series was praised for its surprisingly gritty approach to the concept of teens with special powers saving the day. Over the course of 54 novels and several add-ons, the central characters come to realize the toll that the physical and psychological horrors of war had taken on them.

Animorphs enjoyed enormous popularity in the ’90s, regularly competing with the Goosebumps series on bestseller lists. A live-action series was produced for two seasons at Nickelodeon, which met with mixed reviews.

It seems the upcoming Animorphs movie is going to suffer from major deviation from the source material, which is why the original authors decided to depart the project. That does not mean the movie itself will not get made.

Hollywood has a long history of ignoring the wishes of authors when it comes to adapting their works. Writer Alan Moore famously disavowed every film and tv adaptation of his Watchmen comics, while P. L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books, was opposed to Disney’s adaptation of her characters. Hopefully, the Animorphs movie that does get made will do a better job of satisfying fans than it did the series authors.

Neeraj Chand

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