'Snicket' cuddles up to kids as negative reaction nixes scarier tale

Paramount and DreamWorks are hoping auds like their “Lemony” lite.

After weighing two versions of “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” — a scarier take closer to the tone of Daniel Handler‘s books and a more kid-friendly version that tested better with younger tykes and their mothers — execs have opted for the more child-friendly version.

The choice to lighten up — particularly with an optimistic coda that’s not in the books — stemmed partly from negative reactions to the scarier version.

Execs first pushed for a brighter take back in August when director Brad Silberling delivered his first cut, but it’s tricky turf, since the pic is based on Handler’s decidedly dark stories about the travails of a trio of orphans — Sunny, Klaus and Violet — beset by bad luck and cunning/incompetent adults.

The 11 “Snicket” books have sold 22 million copies worldwide, and both the filmmakers and star Jim Carrey were loath to stray too far from the source material — however dark it may be.

“Snicket” has even been promoted as a deliberately anti-holiday comedy with taglines like, “Taking the cheer out of Christmas” and “Mishaps. Misadventures. Mayhem. Oh Joy.”

In the end, accessibility prevailed. Paramount, which brought in DreamWorks early last year when producer Scott Rudin departed over budget issues, clearly is hoping for its own “Harry Potter”-style franchise by tapping into the same preteen fan base as J.K. Rowling’s tomes.

Notably, the first two “Potter” pics hewed close to the books, while the most recent received critical praise for breaking free a bit. Worldwide grosses are about $975 million for the first, $875 million for the second and $785 million for the third.

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