The Halloween Tree

Warner Bros. has hired a writer to tackle the script for The Halloween Tree, a movie adaptation of science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury‘s classic 1972 novel. Will Dunn, who went through 20th Century Fox’s writing program and once had a screenplay on the Blacklist, will write the screenplay.

If you’re a fan of the Halloween season, you should be very excited about the potential of a new The Halloween Tree movie. The book has already been adapted into an animated movie in the 1990s, and you can watch a couple of clips from that and learn some story details below.

Deadline reports that Dunn will write a new The Halloween Tree film, and the implication is that this one will be a live-action feature.

The story follows a group of pre-teen kids on Halloween night in a small Midwestern town. When Pipkin, the group’s de facto leader, never shows up to trick-or-treat, the rest of the group set out to find him, eventually crossing paths with a mysterious mystical figure named Moundshroud, who leads them all on a journey through time and space to find Pipkin and learn about the origins of the costumes they’re wearing. Along the way, the kids travel to Notre Dame cathedral to learn about gargoyles, ancient Egypt to learn about mummies, Mexico to learn about the Day of the Dead, and more. (And yes, there is a literal Halloween Tree filled with tons of jack o’ lanterns. It rules.) It’s a cool story, striking a nice balance between being thrilling, a tiny bit spooky, and educational.

I’m a huge fan of both the book and the 1993 animated movie, which Bradbury wrote and narrated himself. He won an Emmy for writing the script, and his narration in the film is just pitch perfect. As a writer, he was the king of capturing that ineffable feeling of youthful freedom in small towns, with the changing leaves and changing winds often serving as harbingers for fantastical events which would leave carefree kids changed forever. As a narrator, he managed to bring all of that to life in a way that felt unique.

Here are a few clips from the animated version:

(The animated movie is currently available for rental or purchase, if you’re curious.)

Even though Warner Bros. is developing this new version, The Halloween Tree already has a connection with a rival company. A “real” Halloween Tree was installed as part of the annual decorations at Disneyland in 2007, and has been a staple at the park every Halloween season since.

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