LONDON — Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris’ Neal Street Prods., whose credits include Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful,” has unveiled its latest film project, an adaptation of Enid Blyton’s “Magic Faraway Tree” books for theatrical release.
This will be the first feature film adaptation of “The Magic Faraway Tree” series, which were written between 1939 and 1951. The series is made up of four novels: “The Enchanted Wood,” “The Magic Faraway Tree,” “The Folk of the Faraway Tree” and “Up the Faraway Tree,” all of which have been optioned by Neal Street for development.
Each story takes place in the enchanted forest in which The Magic Faraway Tree grows — tall enough to reach the clouds and large enough to contain small houses. Discovered by the books’ child heroes, the tree and forest provide the background to their adventures.
Blyton is one of the world’s best-selling children’s authors. She has sold more than 500 million copies of her books, and they have been translated into over 40 languages. Her book series include “Noddy” and “The Famous Five.”
Neal Street is headed by Harris, Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Skyfall”) and Caro Newling. Its film credits include “Starter for Ten” and “Jarhead,” and its TV division is responsible for “Call the Midwife,” “The Hollow Crown” and “Penny Dreadful,” as well as a theater arm behind the West End hit musical “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and the recent West End run of “Merrily We Roll Along.”
Harris said: “As a child I was captivated by ‘The Faraway Tree’ books, and the magical worlds created by Enid Blyton. Re-reading the books today with my daughter, they completely retain their power to enchant. To be able to adapt these books for the big screen, and introduce them to a new audience is a great honor.”
Marlene Johnson, head of the Enid Blyton Estate, said: “Enid Blyton was a passionate advocate of children’s storytelling, and ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ is a fantastic example of her creative imagination. It’s a much loved title, so we’re very excited to announce we’ve signed an option agreement for development of ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ film with Neal Street Prods. Many generations have grown up with ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ and today’s news provides a great chance to share the wonder of these stories through a new medium.”