US readers will know him as Waldo, UK readers as Wally but seeing as he was created and first published in the UK, I’m taking the Wally option for this post. Whatever you want to call the little fella anyway, he’s once again on his way to the big screen, this time courtesy of Universal. Until recently, Paramount were planning a Where’s Wally? picture bet they put it into turnaround after which, as The Hollywood Reporter have it, “the rights [...] have been bouncing around between entities”.
Paramount’s picture would have seen Wally time traveling, as he indeed did in later books in his series. I guess one crowd was looking pretty much the same as any other crowd and after traveling the globe, a spot of time-hopping was a sure fire way to find packs of other humanoids to lurk amongst.
The closest elements of narrative I’m aware of in the book came with the creation of other characters. These too were scattered throughout the busy pictures, giving you more of a chance to find somebody or, to look at it another way, greater challenge in hunting down a whole pack. These characters included Odlaw, Wally’s own evil alter ego (his name made more sense in the US version, which is perverse).
There was also Wanda, a love interest; Wilma, Wanda’s sister; Woof, Wally’s pet dog – inherited from Wilma; Wizard Whitebeard, a mysterious guru; and The Wally Watchers who sometimes turned up in great numbers. Perhaps most mysteriously, I saw the same bearded guy in a green shirt turning up in an incredible amount of the pictures – though he was never pointed out, to the best of my knowledge, and nobody else repeated. I’ve always suspected he was a stand-in for Martin Handford, the books’ creator.
Whitebeard sent Wally off on a quest in a few books (and episodes of the TV show) and that seems a likely starting point for the film too. Trying to logically extrapolate how the big screen version would work on the basis of the books is probably not a good idea, however. I mean, do you really expect it to be made up entirely of IMAX-format extreme long shots?
Oh… by the way, he’s actually in the picture at the top of the post. Please don’t tell me you can’t find him.