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The Magic School Bus Is Getting A Live-Action Movie With An A-List Star

Elizabeth Banks in Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later

‘Beep, beep’ Seat belts everyone! It’s been over two decades since the original Magic School Bus animated series concluded its run, and while there’s a newer cartoon that introduced Ms. Frizzle’s crazy adventures with her students to today’s youths, word’s come in that a live-action Magic School Bus movie is in the works, and Elizabeth Banks has been cast to play the eccentric teacher.

In addition to her Ms. Frizzle duties, Elizabeth Banks will also be putting on her producer’s hat for the live-action Magic School Bus movie, as her production company, Brownstone Productions, is teaming with Scholastic Entertainment, Marc Platt Productions (which has tackled movies like La La Land and Mary Poppins Returns) and Universal Pictures to bring the project to life. Here’s what Iole Lucchese from Scholastic Entertainment had to say about the Magic School Bus movie moving forward (via THR):

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.

Based on the same-named series of books by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, the original Magic School Bus series followed Valerie Frizzle, voiced by Lily Tomlin, taking her students aboard a transforming, yellow school bus fantastical field trips, from shrinking down to venture inside of a human body, to traveling to historical time periods. Tomlin scored the 1996 Emmy for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for the Ms. Frizzle role, and the series itself, which ran from 1994-1997, scored numerous Emmy nominations, among other accolades.

Cut to 2017, Netflix premiered The Magic School Bus Rides Again, which was a sequel to the original animated series rather than a reboot. In this incarnation, it’s the Kate McKinnon-voiced Fiona Frizzle, Valerie’s younger sister, who used that wonderful school bus to take students on educational field trips, although Lilly Tomlin did reprise Valerie for a handful of episodes. The Magic School Bus Rides Again didn’t last quite as long as its predecessor, concluding in April 2018 with its second season.

So with the Magic School Bus franchise having already nicely covered books and animated shows, making the jump to the big screen for a live-action tale is a fitting next step. I imagine this movie will be completely separated from the animated TV shows, but who knows, maybe there’ll be a way to somehow tie all three of these projects together, making for a Magic School Bus shared universe/multiverse of sorts.

This marks Scholastic Entertainment’s latest foray into theatrical movies, with their other recent projects including Goosebumps, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, the upcoming Clifford the Big Red Dog and the upcoming Animorphs. As for Elizabeth Banks, her recent work includes Brightburn, Charlie’s Angels and Mrs. America.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on the live-action Magic School Bus movie, and in the meantime, you can look through our 2020 release schedule to learn what movies are supposed to arrive in theaters later this year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.