Thursday, August 21st, 2014

For the acclaimed author Lois Lowry, seeing her bestselling, cult classic YA novel The Giver turned into a film was simply a pipe dream. Since actor Jeff Bridges first optioned the rights to her book back in 1996, she’s simply had to play the waiting game while it switched hands and got caught up in typical Hollywood politics. Not that she’s complaining, telling; “I think in a way it’s a good thing that it took so long, because by the end of 18 years, everybody was at the right place. I’m glad it took so long.”

Now, the wait is almost over as The Giver will finally be hitting theaters around the country. The rights to adapt the book were first optioned by Jeff Bridges back in 1996 after he stumbled upon the book while looking for a project in which he could direct his father, the late Lloyd Bridges. From there Bridges, his manager Neil Koenigsberg, and producer Nikki Silver spent years meeting with studio after studio, trying to find someone to take on the project. Silver recalls to The Hollywood Reporter; “Everybody was interested in talking about it, but no one could wrap their head around what it would look like on the big screen.”

Eventually Bridges’ option ran out and the project was picked up by Warner Bros., who also failed to materialize anything from it, allowing Bridges to reclaim the options back in 2009. Then, the phenomenon known as The Hunger Games hit theaters and interest in YA books with a dystopian focus was entirely renewed. As we can now see, from the success of The Hunger Games as well as Divergent, teens are ready for some pretty dark subject matter, as opposed to the regular fluff they’ve been sold previously (both of the above dystopian films are available online or on demand through your cable provider). As Silver frankly put it: “The success of The Hunger Games helped get this movie made, 100 percent.”

Once the project got the green light, casting was the next obstacle to tackle. It was decided that Bridges would assume the titular role – the one which he had originally intended for his father. From there, they added some superstar additions like Katie Holmes,  AlexanderSkarsgard, and the incomparable Meryl Streep as Chief Elder. When it came time to cast the star of the film, Jonas, they decided to cast a relatively unknown Australian actor, Brenton Thwaites, in what will surely be a star making role.

As far as the content of the film, and how true it stays to the book, Lowry encourages fans to fear not! She explained to that, “When it finally became clear that the movie was going to be made, they were not obligated to consult me in any way but they decided to do so. And continued to do so. So during the making of the film, the director [Phillip Noyce] would e-mail me almost every day. We had a Skype interview with the costume designer. Throughout the process – costume design, set design, they had me read [the screenplay] and make notes – and then during the filming, there were all of these seemingly minor details that he asked me about. And then they asked me to come to South Africa while they were filming. I had not expected any of that to be true. It was gratifying. It was lovely that they trusted me enough.” With such a heavy influence in the pre-production and filming I think it’s safe to say that the film version will stay as close to the book as possible.”

The Giver opens at Cinema Salem on Friday, August 15th so you’d better order your tickets as soon as you can!