A mythical battle resumes at the movie theater on August 7 with the release of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. This sequel to Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief (2010) is based on the second in Rick Riordan’s middle-grade fantasy series from Disney-Hyperion about a 12-year-old boy with dyslexia and ADHD who discovers that he is the son of Poseidon. In the second film, Percy and his fellow demigods journey to retrieve the Golden Fleece, their only protection against the mythological beasts that populate the Sea of Monsters. Most of the cast from the first film returns for Sea of Monsters, including Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, Brandon T. Jackson as Grover Underwood, and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase. The film, from 1492 Pictures/Sunswept Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, is directed by Thor Freudenthal, who takes over from Chris Columbus, director of the first movie, which grossed over $88 million domestically.
With its high adventure, mythological creatures, and relatable hero, the series has drawn an impassioned fan base. To date, more than 33 million books (across the Percy Jackson & the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and The Heroes of Olympus series) are in print in the U.S. and the books have been translated into 37 languages in 36 countries. And if the Percy Jackson Facebook fan page is any indication, readership isn’t waning: launched in 2010, the site has grown to 2.2 million fans. In 2012 alone, the page attracted 1.4 million new fans.
This month, Disney-Hyperion is releasing a tie-in edition of Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, featuring cover art from the film, as well as Sea of Monsters: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Robert Venditti, with original illustrations by Attila Futaki and Tamas Gaspar. A page from the graphic novel has been posted on the Percy Jackson Facebook fan page.
Also this month, Twentieth Century Fox released an online featurette offering a behind-the-scenes look at the movie.
Dispatches from the Training Ground
Ahh, summer camp: canoeing, campfire songs, games of capture-the-flag… or sword fighting, occasional visits from the Oracle, and encounters with one-eyed monsters. For some kids, the Percy Jackson series is more than just fantasy: they can attend a real-life Camp Half-Blood, named for the demigod training compound in Riordan’s saga. The idea for a Percy Jackson-themed summer camp was hatched by Topher Bradfield, children’s outreach coordinator and camp director for BookPeople in Austin. As he explains on his Web site, “I began our very first literary camp, Camp Half-Blood, in the summer of 2006 after having a group of enthusiastic Percy Jackson fans ask me, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to go to Camp Half-Blood for real?’ The camp has since expanded to numerous locations, and although Riordan and Disney are not directly affiliated with the real-world Camp Half-Blood programs, Riordan has blogged enthusiastically about BookPeople’s camp, lending his full support to Bradfield’s concept.
Monsters Invade Brooklyn
PW caught up with Jason McConnell, assistant director at Brooklyn’s Camp Half-Blood, which is in the midst of six week-long summer sessions, to gauge how the movie is informing this year’s camp activities.
According to McConnell (who during camp goes by “Son of Apollo”), campers are energized and on high alert as they undergo rigorous training, which prepares them to battle against the monsters in the forests of Prospect Park. “This year’s theme is The Sea of Monsters. The training, trivia, and activities are all centered around the creatures that Odysseus and Percy face in The Odyssey and The Sea of Monsters, respectively,” McConnell said.
Between role-playing games (like dodging giant boulders – OK, dodgeballs – being chucked by Laestrygonians) and arts and crafts (making sheep masks in order to sneak undetected into the Cyclops’s cave), campers don’t have a lot of time left for reading. However, McConnell noted, the kids have already read the books several times. “You'd be amazed at how some of the kids can recite any Greek tale you ask them to explain,” said McConnell. The last session of Brooklyn’s Camp Half-Blood draws to a close on August 9 – just as Percy Jackson’s latest adventure opens on the big screen.