Written by Jon WilliamsTheatregoers heading to the box office this weekend will be faced with a plethora of choices, as usual, but for many of them it will come down to one big one: will it be Independence Day: Resurgence, opening nearly twenty years after the original, or will it be Finding Dory, the charming animated sequel to Finding Nemo, now in its second week of release? Tough call. And it won’t get any easier next weekend, which sees the opening of two new adaptations of beloved classic books.
One of these is The BFG, which is based upon the 1982 novel by whimsical children’s author Roald Dahl. Brought to the screen by director Steven Spielberg (and with a soundtrack by John Williams), it tells the fantastical tale of an orphan named Sophie, who is kidnapped by what turns out to be a Big Friendly Giant (hence the title), an outcast who needs her help to stop a band of giants with the not-so-friendly tendency to eat other children. This is the first live-action version of The BFG to be produced; a made-for-TV animated version came out in 1989.
Of course, Dahl wrote many classic children’s books, and many well-known adaptations have been made from them. He is perhaps best known for his 1964 tale of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the two movies made from it: the 1971 version Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (for which Dahl wrote the screenplay) starring Gene Wilder, and the 2005 version directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. Other well-known movies made from Dahl’s works include James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches, and Matilda.
The other adaptation coming to theatres next week is The Legend of Tarzan, starring Alexander Skarsgard as the fabled man raised in the jungle by apes after the death of his parents. The character originated in the 1914 novel Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and continued on through a number of sequels. Burroughs was a prolific writer in the sci-fi and fantasy genres; he also wrote the Barsoom series (beginning with A Princess of Mars) that eventually spawned the film John Carter.
Tarzan, though, is far and away Burroughs’s most famous creation; he is, in fact, one of the most well-known characters in fiction, due in part (or maybe even primarily) to the sheer number of movies and TV shows in which he has featured. The most pervasive of these is a series of films starring gold medal-winning Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller in the title role. One of the most successful TV series starred Ron Ely and ran from 1966-1968. Not surprisingly, Disney made the most popular animated version in 1999, with a star-studded voice cast and a soundtrack by Phil Collins.
So if history is any indication, both of these movies are sure to be quite popular, and patrons will be looking for related material (and, as always, you can search on our website for even more). Let us know which one you’ll be seeing when it’s released, and stay tuned in the coming months for DVD and Blu-ray release date information on these exciting new movies.