With 30 million copies in print and near-permanent residence on bestseller lists, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has established itself as a bona fide publishing phenomenon over the last three years. And now its wimpy star, Greg Heffley, is making his move into another medium: film. On March 19, Fox 2000 will release Diary of a Wimpy Kid, based on the first book in Jeff Kinney's series, which Abrams' Amulet Books imprint published in 2007.
Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs) directed the film, which was produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson (Kinney is an executive producer). Twelve-year-old Zachary Gordon stars in the role of Greg Heffley; he's appeared in such films as Georgia Rule and The Brothers Bloom and has done voiceover work for Ni Hao Kai-lan and other shows.
On March 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 production photos throughout—everything from stills from screen tests to the digital aging of the slice of cheese responsible for the infamous "cheese touch"—as well as plenty of Kinney's cartoons and trademark humor. "The idea of a live-action version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid raised some questions," he writes. "How would fans of the book feel about Greg being played by an actor?... But there were even more important things to consider before moving forward." (The following cartoon shows Kinney on the phone asking, "Can I get free popcorn at the premiere?")
Even though the film's release is still a week away, Kinney has stayed very busy this month. On March 4, he kick-started the National Education Association's National Reading Month with an event at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City with Katherine Paterson, the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and 800 area kids, who were treated to an advance screening of the movie.
Since then, 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 Palace Theatre in Stamford, Ct., on March 17 for the launch event for The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary. The event is being coordinated in partnership with Stamford's Ferguson Public Library and the local Barnes & Noble, which started giving away 1,300 tickets to the event yesterday.
To promote the book, Abrams is running a banner ad on the Cartoon Network Web site, a print ad in Boys Life, as well as a downloadable party kit and teacher's guide for booksellers, librarians, and teachers. The publisher and Fox partnered with the NEA and School Library Journal to hold a contest for teachers that offered a chance to win a film screening at their 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, the fifth book in the series is scheduled for fall 2010, though Abrams has not yet released any 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.