Michael Landon Jr. continues in his work creating family-friendly films with the release of The Velveteen Rabbit—recently in theaters, and releasing to DVD today. He recently spoke to Christianity Today Movies about the challenges of bringing this beloved book to the big screen, being a Christian in Hollywood, and what's next in his own story.
What made you want to adapt The Velveteen Rabbit it for the screen?
Michael Landon Jr.: I was a directing fellow at AFI and met a writing fellow, Rick Ramage. We stayed in touch after film school and he called me one day informing me that his sister, Cindy Kelley, was an aspiring writer and wanted to write a screenplay inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit. I loved the Margery Williams classic and the theme that love makes us real. But I didn't want to make an animated version—that had already been done. The idea of telling the story through the little boy's point of view rather than the rabbit's solved this issue.
What is the boy's point of view in your story?
Landon: Toby isn't loved in the real world, so he escapes into his imaginary world where he can be loved and be a "real" boy. There is very little story from Margery Williams that can be used to tell a feature-length film. So except for a few key elements, we basically started from scratch. We created the "magic attic" where the toys come to life—and so does Toby's imaginary world. We've animated the scenes that take place in this world, but the rest of the move is live action.
Some adaptations of kids' books, like the Narnia films, have done well at the box office, while others, like The City of Ember, have tanked. Any theories about what it takes to successfully adapt a kids' book?
Landon: The two films you referred ...1
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Making Real Movies
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