EXCLUSIVE: After a spirited auction, DreamWorks Animation has acquired rights to make a feature out of Captain Underpants, the popular 8-volume book series by Dav Pilkey. DreamWorks Animation wasn’t the only bidder, but won the title this morning.
The books revolve around a couple of precocious fourth graders named George Beard and Harold Hutchins. Looking to get back at nasty, student-hating principal Mr. Benny Krupp, the boys hypnotize the principal and cause him to become Captain Underpants. He’s a superhero who is nice and helpful to children and manages to get into all kinds of misadventures with the fourth graders shadowing him to make sure he doesn’t get hurt. The principal has no recollection of his heroics when he returns to normal. Pikey has completed eight volumes with a ninth in the works, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. Scholastic publishes the books.
DWA chief creative officer Bill Damaschke said he and his colleagues have chased Pilkey for movie rights since he first began publishing the series in 1997, but the author never wanted to sell them. “I know he’d been approached many times, and finally, Kassie Evashevski at UTA and Amy Berkower at Writers House phoned us and simply said, ‘He’s ready,'” Damaschke said. “There’s a great anarchic combination of kid and adult humor, and George and Harold are these terrific mischievous characters. And we felt that hypnotizing the principal is one of those great ideas. We’re all big fans of the book.”
UTA repped Pilkey and the lit agency in making the deal.