With30 million copies in print and near-permanent residence on bestseller lists, theDiary of a Wimpy Kid series has established itself as a bona fide publishingphenomenon over the last three years. And now its wimpy star, Greg Heffley, is makinghis move into another medium: film. On March 19, Fox 2000 will release Diary of a Wimpy Kid, based on the firstbook in Jeff Kinney's series, which Abrams' Amulet Books imprint published in 2007.
ThorFreudenthal (Hotel for Dogs) directedthe film, which was produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson (Kinney is anexecutive producer). Twelve-year-old Zachary Gordon stars in the role of GregHeffley; he's appeared in such films as GeorgiaRule and The Brothers Bloom andhas done voiceover work for Ni HaoKai-lan and other shows.
OnMarch 16, three days before the film's release, Abrams will publish The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary,Jeff Kinney's account of the moviemaking process. The book features productionphotos throughout—everything from stills from screen tests to the digital agingof the slice of cheese responsible for the infamous "cheese touch"—as well asplenty of Kinney's cartoons and trademark humor. "The idea of a live-actionversion of Diary of a Wimpy Kidraised some questions," he writes. "How would fans of the book feel about Gregbeing played by an actor?... But there were even more important things toconsider before moving forward." (The following cartoon shows Kinney on thephone asking, "Can I get free popcorn at the premiere?")
Eventhough the film's release is still a week away, Kinney has stayed very busythis month. On March 4, he kick-started the National Education Association's NationalReading Month with an event at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City withKatherine Paterson, the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature,and 800 area kids, who were treated to an advance screening of the movie.
Sincethen, Kinney has been traveling with actors Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron(who plays Greg's friend Rowley) for events in Boston,Philadelphia, and Atlanta. The trio will also visit the PalaceTheatre in Stamford, Ct., on March 17 forthe launch event for The Wimpy Kid MovieDiary. The event is being coordinated in partnership with Stamford's Ferguson Public Library and thelocal Barnes & Noble, which started giving away 1,300 tickets to the eventyesterday.
Topromote the book, Abrams is running a banner ad on the Cartoon Network Website, a print ad in Boys Life, aswell as a downloadable party kit and teacher's guide for booksellers, librarians, and teachers. The publisher and Fox partnered withthe NEA and School Library Journal tohold a contest for teachers that offered a chance to win a film screening attheir school. Fans can also visit the movie's official Web site for games, and a trivia quiz.
In additional good news for Wimpy Kid fans, thefifth book in the series is scheduled for fall 2010, though Abrams has not yet releasedany further details. And producer Brad Simpson has just told film Web site Coming Soon that writing has already begun on a second Wimpy Kid movie, to be based on Kinney's second book, Rodrick Rules.