Producer Howard Deutsch’s long-gestating adaptation of Encyclopedia Brown has taken the first steps toward finally going against Donal J. Sobol’s wishes and putting a film into production. Warner Bros. has hired Matthew Johnson, the emerging talent who co-wrote, directed, and starred in high school revenge drama The Dirties, which won the grand jury prize this year at Slamdance. Considering Johnson's film is an explicit, morally complex metanarrative about two bullied kids brazenly planning a school shooting, he’s definitely an unlikely choice to adapt the children’s series into the palatable, nostalgia-heavy family film the studio clearly wants. And much as the HBO show gave the character a blazer and hair gel in updating Encyclopedia Brown to the ‘80s, there is seemingly potential for an unnecessary gritty reboot approach in placing him in a modern setting. But despite The Dirties, you can probably be certain that Johnson won’t be given free reign to alter the character beyond those family-friendly parameters.
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