'Horrid Henry' book series get film treatment

AP News
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Posted: Jul 29, 2011 7:37 AM
'Horrid Henry' book series get film treatment

The first film adaptation of the popular U.K. book series "Horrid Henry" is just being released in Britain and Ireland, but the film's director already has thoughts of launching the movie in the U.S. "Some films are hard for an American audience to get to grips with because we suffer from a common language, but this one, I think it will work," director Nick Moore said in an interview this week. "I think, watching it, it isn't so English that it would be difficult for it to translate."

"Horrid Henry: The Movie," in theaters Friday, is adapted from the works of Francesca Simon, whose phenomenally successful series of Horrid Henry books has made him the most popular literary character in Britain after boy wizard Harry Potter.

Henry is the sort of boy who constantly annoys almost everyone around him, particularly his exasperated parents, then wonders why people are always on his case.

Moore _ who also directed 2008's "Wild Child" and edited the BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated 1997 British comedy, "The Full Monty" _ said adapting the popular series to the big screen came with great responsibility, especially when he began casting the young actors.

"It was sort of a multi-strand attack really. We had people going out looking at lots of schools. The word was out to all drama classes everywhere that we were looking," he said. "We didn't want to disappoint anybody."

The 3D film follows Henry _ known as the Lord High Majesty of the Purple Hand Gang _ as he tries to prevent the closing of his school. Henry is joined by popular characters from the books including the bossy Moody Margaret and Perfect Peter, his irritating younger brother, who seems to do everything right.

Theo Stevenson, the 13-year-old who stars as Henry, said playing the troubled child wasn't too challenging.

"I feel he's kind of like a mate, like a friend because I feel sorry for him sometimes when I'm reading the books," he said. "I'm like, 'Why is everyone picking on Henry?' He's a legend."

Stevenson said readers related to Henry because he's just a normal guy.

"Horrid Henry" book sales total 16 million, and the book series _ which launched in 1994 _ has been transformed into a cartoon series, DVDs, a play and a musical CD.

The film's adaptation has drawn comparisons to "Harry Potter," which recently released its eighth and final film installment of the J.K. Rowling book series.

"We're aiming for some younger kids," said 12-year-old Scarlett Stitt, who plays Moody Margaret. "I mean, it's hard to take on 'Harry Potter' because it's so different and obviously it's been going for a lot longer and it would be hard to take it on because it's such a huge hit _ it's bigger than 'Star Wars.'"

"It is very, very different," said Moore. "It's sort of tongue-in-cheekish."

Unlike "Potter," the first "Henry" film doesn't follow the first book; the script is a new one, and Moore says he wants to direct more of the series.

"I would think so. I guess everyone's sort of waiting to see how the (first) one does," he said.

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Online:

http://www.horridhenrythemovie.com/

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Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://twitter.com/musicmesfin