How Judy Blume Finally Got a Movie Adaptation
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read
We were just as incredulous as you: Tiger Eyes, which is being released simultaneously in select theaters, iTunes, and on demand services on June 7th, is the first big screen adaptation of at Judy Blume book ever. Eventually, it took a script from Blume and directing from her filmmaker son to convince a studio to buy into a small budget adaptation of Tiger Eyes. Even then, after the film wrapped, the deal fell apart, Blume spent a year getting control of the movie back and almost couldn’t find a new distributor, despite a Hollywood-wide obsession with finding the next big phenomenon from Young Adult literature.
Blume and her son Lawrence talked about the process of getting Tiger Eyes made to Entertainment Weekly:
While Hollywood was deep in the throes of its love affair with YA—thanks to Harry Potter and Twilight—Tiger Eyes didn’t fit its template. It was a movie about real teenagers dealing with real problems: no magic, no thrilling danger, no fangs. It didn’t have a big producer backing it, nor was there an A-list star attached. Sure, there was a name on board—Judy Blume—but that wasn’t enough on its own… this January, the Blumes found a distributor, Freestyle—an independent studio whose past films include The Illusionist and Wristcutters: A Love Story—to release Tiger Eyes on demand and in at least 20 theaters.
This non-interest was a change, Blume said, from the seventies, when, after Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and her other most well known books were being written and first read, she had no shortage of lunches with Hollywood producers. She tended to turn them down, however, because they “never came to the table with any real ideas.” They just wanted to adapt whatever she’d sell to them, rather than showing passion for anything in particular. These days, however, there’s apparently not a lot of interest. Says Lawrence: “What shocked me was that a big segment of the business knew who Judy Blume was but they didn’t understand who she was. Part of it is that the film business is run mostly by old white men—and some young ones, too—who didn’t grow up with her books.”
Blume’s books have made it to television, with mixed success in her eyes. With Tiger Eyes, though she and Lawrence have had full creative control, she’s worried about the impact of its budget. $3 million is not a lot to go around after a production wraps, when marketing starts to be an imperative. So if there are any of you out there who feel like you owe something to Judy Blume for being the amazing author that she is, I suppose you should find out if Tiger Eyes will be playing in a theater near you, and if not, check it out on iTunes next month.
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