Author Crockett Johnson’s 1955 book Harold and the Purple Crayon has been an object of fascination for Hollywood for decades, and it’s easy to see why. The story, which follows a young boy who uses his imagination and a crayon to create a wondrous world around him, is tailor-made for a movie adaptation – and after many starts and stops, it seems like a feature version might finally happen.
A new report says that Shazam! star Zachary Levi is attached to star in a live-action Harold and the Purple Crayon movie for Sony.
The Hollywood Reporter brings the news about Levi’s involvement with the project, which will be written by David Guion and Michael Handelman, whose credits include the Steve Carell/Paul Rudd comedy Dinner for Schmucks and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which is the most recent entry in that film franchise. John Davis, who previously produced movies like Predator, The Firm, Waterworld, Game Night, and Dolemite is My Name, is attached to produce.
Johnson’s book centers on a creative four-year-old who, armed with a purple crayon, begins sketching out a reality around him, drawing landscapes and creatures and methods of transportation and eventually, trying to return home so he can fall asleep. The story was adapted into a seven minute short film in 1959, which was the sole directorial credit for actor David Piel and was narrated by Norman Rose, whose deep, clear voice served him well in narrator and announcer roles throughout his career. Check out that short below:
Obviously Guion and Handelman are going to have to significantly build out the story to make it feature length, but with this premise, the possibilities are endless. And it’s been expanded before: in the early 2000s, HBO turned it into a 13-episode miniseries narrated by Sharon Stone. I’m assuming Zachary Levi will be voicing the narrator in this version, but maybe he could be the inner voice of Harold or something along those lines. Personally, I’m wondering just how “live-action” this production is going to be at the end of the day. It’s impractical to put an entire movie on the shoulders of a four-year-old child, so will the kid be a weird CG creation?
Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are) may have come the closest to being able to adapt this into a feature, but Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and Will Smith’s Overbrook production company have also failed at the task.
THR points out that these writers should be familiar with this general milieu because they’re also tackling the script for Slumberland, another story about a young child and imagination. (That one is based on the classic comic Little Nemo in Slumberland.)
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