More than 500 adults and children attended a free screening at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge, Ill. on Saturday, August 16 for Albert Whitman & Company’s newest release: a full-length animated feature film, The Boxcar Children, featuring the voices of actors Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now), J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man), Zachary Gordon (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Joey King (Wish I Was Here), Jadon Sand (Frozen and Lego: The Movie), and Mackenzie Foy (Twilight: Breaking Dawn 1 and 2). The film is an adaptation of the first book in the Boxcar Children series.
Adding to the excitement, the four actors behind the Alden children’s voices – Gordon (James Alden), King (Jessie Alden), Sand (Benny Alden), and Foy (Violet Alden) – as well as the two directors, Dan Chuba and Mark Dippe – were on hand to watch the movie with the audience, answer questions, and sign movie posters for fans. The screening, which was also a book drive for Chicago’s Open Books literacy nonprofit, pulled in more than 500 used books for local literacy initiatives.
“Our charity screening for The Boxcar Children was an overwhelming success,” John Quattrocchi, Albert Whitman’s president and co-owner, reported. “We had over 500 fans in attendance and they loved the movie. The cast and directors were wonderful and incredibly gracious to their fans. It couldn’t have been a better day.”
The Boxcar Children, which made its debut at the Toronto International Children’s Film Festival in April, was produced by Hammerhead Productions and distributed by Phase 4. It will have a limited release in, to date, a dozen markets, and was also made available to consumers in a DVD format on August 19.
Albert Whitman & Company is hoping to rejuvenate its beloved Boxcar Children line of books and other products with this movie, the first film adaptation of the Boxcar Children series, which was created by Gertrude Chandler Warner in 1942. She wrote the first 19 volumes in the middle-grade series of mysteries; after her death in 1979, Albert Whitman continued to publish the books, commissioning writers to write them in a style similar to Warner’s. To date there are 137 Boxcar Children titles, and the book have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide.
This fall, Albert Whitman will publish the Boxcar Children Guide to Adventure activity book, as well as two new titles in the series: The Mystery of the Soccer Snitch and The Mystery of the Grinning Gargoyle.
Albert Whitman is also promoting the series by launching a Boxcar Children Fan Club and redesigning the Boxcar Children website. A number of authors have been invited by the publisher to blog on the re-designed website about their love for the series, and its impact on their lives. To date, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, T. Jefferson Parker, Mary Kay Andrews, Karen Hawkins, among others, have committed to writing blogs.