Elizabeth Banks has signed on to produce and star in a feature adaptation of The Magic School Bus book series from author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen, which has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide.
Universal Pictures is teaming with Scholastic Entertainment, Marc Platt Productions and Banks’ Brownstone Productions to bring the beloved bus to the big screen. Not only will Banks play teacher extraordinaire Ms. Frizzle, but she’ll produce alongside her Brownstone partner Max Handelman and Marc Platt and Adam Siegel, as well as Iole Lucchese and Caitlin Friedman of Scholastic Entertainment. Brownstone’s Alison Small will serve as an executive producer.
The Magic School Bus is a science-centered series featuring the intrepid Ms. Frizzle and her class, who set out on field trips in their familiar-looking yellow school bus that magically transforms into a plane, submarine, spaceship, or surfboard, depending on the science concept being explored. The new project will be a live-action hybrid film, and Universal executives Sara Scott and Lexi Barta will oversee production on behalf of the studio, while Ryan Christians will oversee for Marc Platt Productions.
The bestselling books were first adapted in 1994 as an animated PBS series featuring Lily Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle. The show aired for 18 consecutive years in the U.S. and has been broadcast in more than 100 countries around the world, making it the longest-running kids science series in history. SNL‘s Kate McKinnon recently voiced Ms. Frizzle’s sister, Fiona, in an animated sequel to the original series titled The Magic School Bus Rides Again that debuted on Netflix in 2017 and featured a theme song performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame, who I take it grew up as a fan of the original series.
“We are delighted to bring to life the iconic Ms. Frizzle and her zest for knowledge and adventure in a fresh new way that inspires the next generation of kids to explore science and supports the dedicated teachers who help make science real and accessible for young learners every day,” said Lucchese.
Platt is the Oscar-nominated producer of director Damien Chazelle‘s La La Land and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies whose feature credits also include Mary Poppins Returns, Legally Blonde, Into the Woods, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Wanted, as well as my personal favorites Drive and Rachel Getting Married. He’s also the producer of the Broadway mega-hit Wicked, which has racked up more than $5 billion in global ticket sales. In his former life as a film executive, he ran production for three different studios, where he oversaw classics such as The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Rudy, and As Good As It Gets.
With an exclusive television deal at Warner Bros. Television and first look film deal at Universal Pictures, Brownstone Productions’ slate currently includes Invisible Woman, The Grace Year, Science Fair, The Paperpag Princess and Uncanny Valley at Universal, as well as Miss Conception at Sony/Screen Gems. On the TV side, Brownstone is behind Elizabeth Banks‘s Hulu series Shrill, DC Super Hero High and Over My Dead Body at HBO Box, and an animated comedy series based on The Flintstones at Warner Bros. Animation.
Scholastic Corporation is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, and its media division Scholastic Entertainment’s award-winning productions include the animated series Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Magic School Bus and The Magic School Bus: Rides Again, as well as the Goosebumps film franchise and live-action series.