Almost as frequent as reports of remakes and 3D projects are the announcements for new family friendly film franchises based on popular book series. The Harry Potter films have set a fairly high bar in both quality and popularity, but that hasn’t stopped numerous others from trying and failing to capture some of that same magic… Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, City of Ember, Inkheart, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Golden Compass… all movies that hoped to become ongoing franchises but that died at the box-office.
And now one more kids book series is making the move to the big screen, but instead of relying solely on the series’ name to sell tickets Spyglass Entertainment has found a director to ensure the movie should actually turn out pretty damn good too. Heat Vision is reporting that Juan Jose Campanella will be directing Heck from the book series by Dale E. Basye and Bob Dob. The film will adapt the first book in the series, Where the Bad Kids Go. A second book, Rapacia, is already on store shelves, and a third one titled Blimpo is due in May.
The book/series follows siblings Milton and Marlo Fauster who die in an explosion and find their souls sent to Heck. I’m already sold by the fact that the story is about dead kids. Once they arrive in Heck they discover it’s basically a reform school for naughty kids. Lizzie Borden teaches Home Economics classes, Richard Nixon teaches Ethics, and Blackbeard is the gym teacher. Marlo was a sneaky little thief while alive and obviously deserves to be here, but Milton feels he’s arrived by mistake. He sets out to escape but his journey will be a dangerous one through all nine levels of Heck including Limbo, Rapacia, Blimpo, Fibble, Snivel, Precocia, Lipptor, Sadia, and Dupli-city. The books are filled with gross-out humor, wordplay, and fun illustrations by Dob.
Campanella’s last film was the Oscar-winning (and excellent) Argentinian film, The Secret In Their Eyes, but contrary to Heat Vision’s report Heck will not be his English-language debut. He’s actually been working in the US for years directing episodes of House MD, Law & Order: Rape Unit, 30 Rock, and more. He has a fantastic eye for visuals and has shown that he truly values showing a story over simply telling it. His involvement combined with the original and fun-sounding plot of Heck make this adaptation one to watch.
What the heck do you think of Campanella working on a kids movie?