I've been rereading K.A. Applegate's fantastic Animorphs series the last month or two, and during that time, I've heard numerous rumors across the Internet that Universal Studios purchased the rights to produce an Animorphs film. Whether or not this is true doesn't matter right now. There is no IMDB listing and very few sources to back this claim. If Universal did purchase the rights, there's a good chance they're keeping it hush-hush until a decent screen play is produced.
Because, let's face it... the 90s TV series, no matter how much you might have enjoyed it, was terrible compared to the books themselves. Not only did none of the actors really fit their roles (except maybe Shawn Ashmore, but even that was stretching it), but let's not even get started on set design, the fact that Tobias was cast as a red-shouldered hawk, not a red-tailed hawk (which bothered me to no end as a child), and the, um, Andalites themselves. Sorry, Nickelodeon, but that was probably one of the worst adaptions I've ever seen.
If a film is to be made, some things must be noted--especially if the company producing the film wants to make money off of it... and if they want to create something far, far better than the film's predecessor.
Number One: Pick a Plot
The series is made up of 54 fairly short books, each with its own unique plot, as well as four Megamorphs books, two Alternamorphs, and the various chronicles books, plus Visser. This expansive set of stories offers a myriad of plots to chose from, some of which (like the Chee plot, which is more subdued but still rather important, as it ties in with the Ellimist plot) merge together rather nicely, and could be boiled down into a cohesive film that focuses solely on the main series itself.
Another way to do this is choose a set of books (perhaps the first five or ten), and make it clear that the film is the first in a set. From there, follow the plot closely and get as much information right as possible. I can't tell you how irritating it was to see so many things done incorrectly in the TV series. As a huge fan, the inconsistencies were hard to swallow and actually made me want to stop reading the books themselves.
Number Two: Keep it 90s
The books were huge in the 90s. These were a staple to every 90s kid's reading collection. I know that there was a point where Scholastic tried to update the books to fit better in the 2000s, and that the reprint and rewrite failed pretty horribly. Part of the Animorphs charm was that the kids knew things we did. They watched the same shows as us. They were challenged because the Internet was still dial-up. Technology of the time meant none of them had cell phones. The juxtaposition between Andalite and Yeerk technology compared to that of humans was brilliantly played out. And let's face it, this film isn't going to be made for kids. No--it's going to be made for 90s kids. So, please, don't try to update it. Keep the setting in the 90s where it belongs. You wouldn't update Harry Potter to take place with iPads and smart phones, would you? No! So don't do it to Animorphs.
Number Three: Design
The third element that needed the most help in the TV series was design. The studio working on this film, I sincerely hope, would rely a lot on computer graphics and animation to bring out the stellar imagery of Applegate's universe. I mean, imagine an Andalite! Oh my gosh--or even a Hork-Bajir! Ah! I can see the gorgeous scenery in my head, the insanely gross morphing, and the plot simply glowing from solid use of computer animation, or at least, adaption. Think Avatar, and you've got a pretty good idea of how gorgeous this film could be.
PS--I'm not talking lovable, kid-friendly 3D animation. I'm taking art. I'm talking adult-friendly animation that would make your jaw hit the floor, and could be a movie you'd introduce your 13-year-old to as a way to get them interested in grown-up films (like, again, Avatar). We don't need cartoonesque Andalites. That would just be sad. :/
Number Four: Characters
For the love of god, make the characters the right age! Seriously. I hated that the characters were all 16+ in the TV show. These are kids. They're, as Marco states in The Extreme, in junior high school. They can't be older than 14, and they shouldn't be. The whole point of Animorphs was to show what kids can do--that even kids, and in my humble opinion, especially kids, can save the world. Don't show them as older teens. Don't give them cars or cool gadgets. The reason these kids were so likable was that they were just like us. We all came from similar positions in life as Tobias, or Rachel, or Jake, or Cassie, or Marco--and even Ax was someone I identified strongly with.
And in regards to the cast, please, please, please try to have the actors match their characters. I remember thinking, That's not Cassie, or That's not Marco--and not because of looks. The attitude the actors exuded on-screen was palpably not the same as their characters, and it bothered me. I felt like I was watching an Alternamorphs, but with characters whose names were the same as the main cast.
Number Five: Get Applegate to Help Out
I'd love to see K.A. Applegate help write the script, or at least some of the ghost writers who worked with her. I think this would help to keep everything consistent in the film franchise, and would maintain a strong sense of nostalgia.
Also, if these films are made, I'd love to see The Hork-Bajir Chronicles and The Andalite Chronicles made into films as well. Can you just imagine how amazing those would be on the silver screen? I'm fangirling just thinking about it!
This list is of course not all-inclusive, but I do think these five things are the foundation to what could be an amazing Animorphs film (or possible, film franchise). And Universal, if you're listening and you've bought the rights, you'd make 12-year-old Kira so, so happy if you made this film. Just sayin', it's an untapped market! ;)