Since the beginning of human existence, boys and girls have always competed to outdo each other. No matter the achievement, the battle of the sexes has always been, for the most part, one big game of "anything you can do, I can do better". Not immune to such (mostly) friendly competitive spirit, the movie industry has recently been ramping up its own version of that game, particularly between Summit Entertaiment and 20th Century Fox. The opening salvo of this possibly brewing arms race is in this scoop, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, which reveals that the best-selling book series for girls Dork Diaries has just been acquired by Summit.
The book series, written by Rachel Renee Russell, chronicles the "not-so fabulous" life of 14 year old Nikki Maxwell, who - over six and a half installments published since 2009 - has faced perils and challenges like concealing her father’s job as an exterminator, dealing with a crush on the cutest boy in school, and penning an advice column in the school paper. With her best friends Chloe and Zoey, Nikki navigates these hijinks with the usual amount of tomfoolery and hand drawn animations that come with a franchise like this. The book trailer below showcases the gist of what to expect from movie adaptation, which is being eyed by Twilight producer Karen Rosenfelt.
So what does this have to do with Fox? Well, if you’re up with your tween literary trends (or happen to have kids), you’ll remember that up until recently Fox had been mining similar material with their successful series of Diary of a Wimpy Kid adaptations. Presented for direct comparison, is the trailer to the first film in that series.
Parental embarassment? Check. Self-aware narrative? Check. Best friends to help the protagonist through the trials of life? Practically built into the package. All that’s missing is an aggressive older sibling as a comedic foil. It's hard to really blame Summit for their acquisition though, as the three Wimpy Kid movies managed to gross a total of $225 million worldwide, showing that there’s room for some competition, as well as an opportunity to outfox Fox.
With this acquisition, Summit (and its parent company Lionsgate) has continued a pattern they've developed over the last decade, as they are the leading producers of female-led films based on female-led literary franchises. Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent have all come before this film from the studios, and they have had moderate to high success at the box office. This move was made not only to create some competition with the Wimpy Kid series, but also to expand the business profile of growing juggernaut.
With no plans for future Wimpy Kid films on the books over at Fox, Summit has a chance to not only play catch up with Dork Diaries, but maybe even surpass the established three-film series. That said, Fox seems to be upping their ground game with Tween audiences across the board as well, with adaptations ofThe Fault In Our Stars and The Maze Runner coming our way later this year.