The Animorphs movie has lost the series’ original creators. Animorphs co-creator Michael Grant, who co-wrote the sci-fi novels with his wife Katherine Applegate (writing together under the name K.A. Applegate), revealed that they are parting ways with the upcoming film adaptation over creative differences.
Animorphs co-creator Michael Grant shared that he and Applegate, who write together under the name K.A. Applegate, have exited the upcoming film adaptation of their acclaimed children’s sci-fi series, which will be adapted by producer Erik Feig and his Picturestart production banner with Scholastic Entertainment.
“With great sadness, we have decided not to participate further in the [Picture Start] effort,” Grant tweeted Tuesday, announcing his decision to cut ties with the film. “We may post a full explanation on Reddit later, but for now let’s go with ‘creative differences,’” he added.
#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: https://t.co/GdBdtswA5h
— Michael Grant REGISTER and VOTE! (@MichaelGrantBks) October 27, 2020
Grant directed his followers to author Rick Riordan’s post where he revealed his experience with the Percy Jackson films, adaptations which infamously butchered Riordan’s original vision. The implication that Grant is making is pretty clear: he and Applegate couldn’t agree on the creative direction with Picturestart, to the point that the Animorphs movie will probably be unrecognizable from the original books.
But in a follow-up tweet, Grant clarified that Picture Start “isn’t up to anything nefarious.”
“Decisions we had hoped to be involved in were made without us – as is their legal right,” Grant said. “But we have a policy: we don’t claim or accept credit for things we didn’t actually do.” Grant added that he wished the film best, but due to Picture Start not leaving enough space for feedback from the creators, he felt it was best to step away from the project overall.
Since we weren’t actually doing or contributing anything, we bailed. The alternative was pretending to you people that we were beavering away being brilliant. Well…no. That would be silly. We wish @picturestart the best. We hope they make a great movie.
— Michael Grant REGISTER and VOTE! (@MichaelGrantBks) October 28, 2020
The Animorphs series consists of 54 books published from 1996 through 2001. The primary focus is five teens Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, and Tobias, and an alien called Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill (nicknamed Ax), whose race known as the Andalites created the transformation technology that allows them to turn into animals. The teens form up a strike force defending the Earth from conquering aliens, transforming into different animals in each book. But despite the silly-sounding premise, the books became lauded for their harrowing depictions of war, ending with a surprisingly bleak resolution.
That ending and the darker aspects of the book may be the source of contention between the creators and the production company, though this is largely my speculation. The TV series adaptation, which ran for two seasons from 1998 to 2000, didn’t reach that bleak conclusion either and perhaps Picture Start isn’t ready to wade into that darker territory.
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