How to Adapt: Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

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Last month, Fox announced that they had required the rights to Ransom Rigg‘s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Apparently, there was a bidding war amongst all the major production companies with Fox coming out the victor and probably paying a pretty penny for the source material. They even bought the book before its release, meaning they clearly thought they had a hit on their hands.

I just finished the book today, and I can’t say I was as impressed as I’d hoped to be. That could just be because the book received a lot of good press before its release, and I was extremely hyped to read it. It’s classified as a YA (young adult) book, but when it’s set aside the dystopian, violence-porn coming out in the wake of “The Hunger Games,” a lot of the scenarios come off a bit mild to what I’m used to in terms of YA reading. However, I do think that Riggs is an extremely talented writer, and her imagination runs wild in this book. It’s a perfect project for someone looking to create an original film geared towards children.

Something that makes the book stand out is its use of pictures that we hear about in the story as the protagonist Jacob searches for the mysterious island of children with magical powers. Whoever signs on to make the movie would do well to acknowledge the pictures and try to incorporate them into the film, not just by showing them on screen, but by using them as inspiration for the moving images. I would love to see the filmmakers, either in flashbacks or the imagination of the protagonist, have each image represented with a little vignette in black-and-white, even if it’s showing them each posing for the camera.

I also think whoever adapts the book needs to play to a younger, rather than older, audience. Take something like “I Am Number Four” earlier this year; that book could’ve been written for a middle-school or high-school audience, and the filmmakers went for the teenage audience because that’s usually the one that makes more money for the comic book movies and such (but don’t forget that Pixar movies “for children” are often the top-grossing of the year). Now, of course, the film made quite a bit of money, but it didn’t make much of a critical impression. What I suggest is keeping the material as kid-friendly as possible. The source material really isn’t that mature, with the exception of a couple curse words, and could be turned into a film akin to “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” which has quite a few scary elements but like ‘Peregrine’s Home.’ I’d love to see this become an “X-Men” for a younger demographic, and I think that producers and screenwriters will play up the action to get kids interested.

It should be interesting to see what director signs on, as well as what kind of young talent — someone like Elle Fanning could do wonders for this film. It’s prime time for projects like this now that both the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” franchises are ending soon.


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