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Exclusive: Harold and the Purple Crayon Headed to the Big Screen

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | February 25, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | February 25, 2010 |

I’ll concede that this may not interest too many folks, but like Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, this particular big screen version of a children’s classic intrigues me because I have a two-year-old, and he loves the hell out of Harold and the Purple Crayon (whenever he wears footie pajamas, he pretends to be Harold).

Now, before you get all up in a nipple-twisting zorker about a feature movie version of Harold and start foaming at the pant leg about desecrated childhood memories, maybe knowing who is behind the project will ease your mind to a degree. For this kind of movie, you could hardly ask for a better producer than Maurice Sendak (who was a protege of Crockett Johnson, the write of Harold and the Purple Crayon), who I hope is involved to keep an eye on the project to ensure it maintains the spirit of the source material. It’s set up at Will Smith’s Overbook Entertainment, under the Sony Pictures Animated unit, so both Will Smith and James Lassiter are also producing.

It doesn’t appear to be a live action hybrid or anything distasteful like that — it’s a pure animation project (CGI, no doubt). A feature movie had been in the works previously, and they’d even mustered up a script from Michael Tolkin, who wrote Nine and Changing Lanes (and Gleaming the Cube for old school Christan Slater fans).

Josh Klausner (Date Night, Shrek the Third) has been brought in to rewrite the script, which is not exactly confidence-inspiring. But the tone is said to be similar to A Neverending Story, which would be nice since this generation doesn’t yet have its Neverending Story (though, as I recall, there’s a remake in the works).

The movie will follow Harold, who uses his magic purple crayon to retreat into his own fantasy world, but soon realizes that he’s been selfish with his crayon and so uses it to help his parents and others, and even go on a mission to Mars.

There is not yet a director, though if I had my druthers, they’d bring in Phil Lord (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.