In the 26-year history of the beloved children’s book series The Magic School Bus. There has yet to be a big screen adaptation of the adventures of eccentric school teacher Ms. Frizzle and the class she takes on educational adventures. That’s about to change with Scholastic Entertainment producing a The Magic School Bus movie with Universal Pictures and Marc Platt Productions, and they’ve already figured out who will be playing the fearless teacher.
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) has come on board the Magic School Bus movie as Ms. Frizzle, and she’ll also be producing through her own Brownstone Productions banner. It brings a whole new meaning to Ms. Frizzle’s catchphrase, “Hit it, Liz!”
The Hollywood Reporter has news on the Magic School Bus movie. Based on the beloved, best-selling book series by author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen. Each book follows Ms. Frizzle and her class as they embark on an educational field trip inside a school bus that can magically transform into various vehicles on air, land and sea, including various vintage airplanes, a variety of boats, and even multiple spacecraft. The Magic School Bus can even make itself look like bugs, slugs, reptiles, mammals and other animals.
Elizabeth Banks certainly has the comedic chops to play Ms. Frizzle on the big screen, but personally, this was always a role that I wanted to see Meryl Streep play. Though Streep is best known for her dramatic roles, the persona of Ms. Frizzle just felt like something the actress could easily embody and have a lot of fun with. Kathryn Hahn has also crossed my mind as a great option for the role. But Banks is by no means a downgrade from them. I think she can knock it out of the park.
The Magic School Bus has never been given a feature film before. But it has seen a couple iterations on television. The original animated series debuted in 1994 and ran for four seasons comprised of 52 episodes. Lily Tomlin voiced Ms. Frizzle, and it was one of the most successful shows on PBS, airing for 18 years and broadcast in over 100 countries around the world. More recently, a sequel series called The Magic School Bus Rides Again came to Netflix in 2017 with Kate McKinnon playing Ms. Frizzle’s sister Fiona, though it didn’t seem to capture what made the original series so great, and the animation style felt rather uninspired.
The Magic School Bus movie will be produced by Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman through Brownstone Productions, who has also set Alison Small as an executive producer. Iole Lucchese and Caitlin Friedman will produce for Scholastic Entertainment along with Marc Platt and Adam Siegel for Marc Platt Productions. Neither a director or writer has been announced for the project at this time.
Scholastic Entertainment’s Iole Lucchese had this to say about The Magic School Bus movie:
“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.”
The news comes hot on the heels of Scholastic Entertainment also producing an adaptation of the popular Animorphs book series. They also have a Clifford the Big Red Dog movie on the horizon. So be prepared for the 1990s to become the new 1980s as studios start rebooting properties that are now between 20 and 30 years old.