With “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” ending their theatrical runs, Lionsgate is on the hunt for new content. The studio announced today that it has has acquired the rights to the Magic Tree House book series, the confirmation was announced today by Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger.
The Company is developing multiple live-action films to be released by Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label that are based on the adventures chronicled in the 54-volume Magic Tree House collection, one of the most beloved and recognizable children’s brands in the world. Award-winning author Mary Pope Osborne will executive produce along with her husband, Will Osborne.
The Magic Tree House franchise has sold over 130 million books, been translated into more than 35 languages and even spawned a successful musical on its way to worldwide acclaim. The series, which chronicles the adventures of brother and sister Jack and Annie after they discover a mysterious tree house and find a collection of books that transports them through history, has earned acclaim from diverse groups including the American Booksellers Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Published by Random House Children’s Books, the most recent installment of the 54-volume series was released last month. The series has taught millions of children the joys of reading and is perennially at the top of national bestseller lists.
Will Osborne and Jenny Laird have written the script for the first installment, based primarily on Book 29, Christmas in Camelot. In the movie, Jack and Annie rediscover the tree house after having outgrown it and are summoned to Camelot to be its saviors.
“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,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-President Erik Feig. “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.”
“Lionsgate has an impressive reputation for working closely with content creators, respecting and protecting their vision, and making them part of the creative process,” said Osborne. “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.”
Prior to coming aboard as a writer on the feature script, Will Osborne was joined by Randy Courts in creating a musical adaptation, Magic Tree House: The Musical, and worked with legendary New Orleans composer Allen Toussaint for Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans. Mr. Osborne also developed a planetarium show entitled Magic Tree House: Space Mission for the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to companion programs for educators, the Osbornes and Natalie Pope Boyce have also created a non-fiction series to supplement the facts inspiring the Magic Tree House stories, entitled Magic Tree House Fact Trackers.
“Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series has impacted the way children learn to read in an extraordinary way, and she has sparked a lifelong love of reading in millions of children over the course of nearly 25 years,” says Barbara Marcus, President & Publisher, Random House Children’s Books. “We are so pleased to see that Mary’s magical storytelling will continue on in a new form, opening up worlds of adventure to new generations of readers.”
Gail Hochman of Brandt & Hochman has been Mary Pope Osborne’s literary agent for over 25 years. Eric Brown and Rose Schwartz of Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo, represented Osborne and the screenwriters. Bonnie Stylides, Senior Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs, negotiated the deal on behalf of Lionsgate.