Aging-Up Characters

This probably isn’t so new*, but it seems to be fairly pervasive just now. This being the aging-up of characters in movie adaptions of kids’ books presumably to snag a bigger audience.  The book Percy Jackson is in middle school whereas the movie Percy is in high school. Same thing with Harriet Welch.  And now it looks that way with Beezus as she too has been bumped up to teen status in the forthcoming Beezus and Ramona.  Are there others you can think of?

*  Just remembered teen Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie. (Dorothy is eight in the book.)



Filed under Children's Literature

5 responses to “Aging-Up Characters

  1. sharon mckellar

    i think the tuck everlasting movie did that too with winnie.


  2. Just added a note above about Judy Garland as Dorothy way, way back in 1939. But unlike these more recent ones I don’t think MGM was thinking specifically of grabbing the teen audience — J.L. Bell — you out there to answer this?


  3. MGM was aiming for a wide audience with The Wizard of Oz, unlike today’s studios, who slice and dice their demographics. I don’t think there really was a “teen audience” yet—Frank Sinatra was still an unknown! Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin were probably MGM’s youngest female stars. (But imagine what would have happened if the studio had waited a few more years and cast Margaret O’Brien.)

    There had been some speculation that Shirley Temple might play Dorothy. She was a fan of the Oz books, but she was also under contract at Paramount and there was never a chance.

    Earlier adaptations of the Oz books had tried to grab older audiences, though. L. Frank Baum and his collaborators on his stage plays and movies added romantic subplots in the belief that adults demanded them. (A couple of those plots snuck into his books as well.)

    Most remarkably, in 1925 the comedian Larry Semon made The Wizard of Oz with his wife playing Dorothy as a young woman and romantic lead. That was really aiming for an older audience.


  4. Hiccup aged in How to Train Your Dragon, and Max went from four or five years old to about eight in Where the Wild Things Are.

    I guess aging the character helps to target a movie going demographic, but in the case of Where The Wild Things Are, it does help to make the movie more complex than this rich book, and it hits different developmental issues.



  5. Amy

    The movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Part 2 had all the girls in college. They took the rest of the books and lumped them into a movie. I didn’t think the movie was horrible, I just hate watching a movie that gets many things wrong with the book. Example: Circle of Friends by Mauve Binchy. Hated the movie. The screen writers left out so much of what the book was about and many of the main characters. I encourage anyone who has seen the movie to read the book.


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