Gary Ross Bringing Phantom Tollbooth Back to the Big Screen

February 17, 2010
Source: Pajiba

The Phantom Tollbooth

Now this sounds like fun! Pajiba is reporting that Gary Ross, director of Pleasantville and Seabiscuit as well as being Tobey Maguire's friend and producer, is developing a remake of The Phantom Tollbooth at Warner Brothers. The project will be a "hybrid live-action/animated fantasy remake" with a first draft of the script written by Alex Tse (of Watchmen). The original Phantom Tollbooth was an animated feature film from 1970 directed by Chuck Jones and based on the children's book by Norman Juster. As much as I'd wish this would be like Where the Wild Things Are, I don't think that's the kind of hybrid they're talking about.

The Phantom Tollbooth follows a young boy named Milo who finds a magical tollbooth that transports him to the enchanting Kingdom of Wisdom, which he must save by rescuing a pair of princesses from a dark power that threatens their destruction. That sounds awesome. Gary Ross is producing through his Larger than Life Productions and plans to direct. However, Ross and Warner Bros are looking for another writer to take another shot at the script before continuing on. Sounds like a cool idea, I guess I don't mind seeing this remade, but we'll have to see if it comes together, since Ross has a lot of other projects on his plate.

Oh and the tagline of the original movie was: "It's an Alphabeautiful Mathemagical New Musical Movie!"

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"The Phantom Tollbooth follows a young boy named Milo who finds a magical tollbooth that transports him to the enchanting Kingdom of Wisdom, which he must save by rescuing a pair of princesses from a dark power that threatens their destruction. Whoa, sounds awesome." Alex, I swear to God you must be the simplest person to please.

sean on Feb 17, 2010


^ It was sarcasm man! Well, sort of. It does sound cool, but definitely not awesome. Is it that bad of a movie or are you just picking on me because I said "whoa, sounds awesome"?

Alex Billington on Feb 17, 2010


Oh, sorry! I really thought you were super excited/sold on that description alone.

sean on Feb 17, 2010


Wow, man this movie holds a very special place in my heart, i remember watching this since i was a kid. I definitely don't think a remake is a very good idea, it was a masterpiece so just leave it as is

JoNacketRequired on Feb 17, 2010


I'm pretty sure it was a book before it was a movie. never saw the movie, but waayy back in the day in elementary school we read this book and I remember enjoying it. This could be good.

Dan W on Feb 17, 2010


They showed the old Chuck Jones movie to us in school. After telling us not to do drugs all the time, I thought it was kind of stupid on their part. That story's like a crazy acid trip. Speaking of Chuck Jones cartoons, someone should remake Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

Brad on Feb 17, 2010


The story was another part of the inspiration for the TV show Lost, the writers have talked about it. Maybe this could be a reason it's being remade. I really like the look of the old poster, the animation is great too, they were obviously taking a lot of acid while thinking up the visuals. It could be another Oz or Narnia type film, even like Alice in Wonderland.

Crapola on Feb 17, 2010


I loved the original as a kid, it's been years since I've seen it though. I think this is a worthwhile remake, just because the original movie had a very positive message for kids, and even taught some things about math and time and stuff. So the current generation of children, who have all probably never seen the original, could probabaly benefit a lot from it. Supposing that the remake maintains those educational values. So IS awesome.

DRM on Feb 17, 2010


oddly enough, I finished reading this book to my six-year old daughter about a month ago, and we both agreed that the book would make a terrific movie. The description above simply can't do this book justice. If you have a kid or if you're a kid at heart you'll enjoy the book.

bigmonkey on Feb 17, 2010


Could be very cool, hopefully it will have a little edge to it.

People's Champ on Feb 17, 2010


I read the book when I was a kid, only remember parts of it (stairway to the "highest number" ever; spelling numbers and counting letters; getting hungrier when you eat; etc.) This will be a kids' movie, make no mistake, but I might catch it anyway. Maybe.

Nada Nuff on Feb 18, 2010


I loved the book as a kid. Probably one of my favorites. For some reason it just really stuck out in my childhood. I think it was because I really associated with the main char for some reason. Might have to go out and find the original movie.

Stevo on Feb 18, 2010


Unfortunately there hasn't been a DVD release of the original movie... I have a couple VHS copies, thankfully. Nothing brings me back to childhood faster. One of my favorite movies of all times. "Time is a gift, precious and rare... Taken to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life!"

Chris on Feb 18, 2010


There was a DVD release, it's available from Amazon for sure, and I think Best Buy and Target have it also, Google it.

Tollbooth reader on Oct 29, 2011


I'm game.

Xerxex on Feb 18, 2010


I remember reading the book and enjoying it quite a bit. I hope this movie doesn't rape my childhood.

Hey Wowza on Feb 19, 2010


This is a great book. Hard to reinvent as a movie because most of its cleverness is in the witty dialogue. The original movie gets some of it but I could have done w/o the songs back when I was 10 and didn't like them any better when I rented the movie from the library last week for my son to watch.

joanne on Feb 20, 2010


This movie is fantastic I own it but when it comes straight down to brass tacks, it FAILED so hard when it was released in the 70's and that's one of the reasons they've never released it on DVD. Also while being cute and entertaining it's very similar with the School House Rock movies (although it did come first), the School House Rock movies we're also more popular. The fact is based on the popularity of educational movies/shows/whatever. This is not going to get made, sad but true. If they did make it the movie would just tank all over again unfortunately because people are to ignorant to ever take their children to see something educational and kids are to pumped full of sugar and seizure-causing-flash-cartoons to ever really enjoy this movie for what it's meant to be.

Crystal on Mar 28, 2010


I loved the original  thought of buying it for my son but I have to say I would take my son if they made a remake-- and I know plenty of parents that wish the learning shows were more fun for kids and I have to say the original was!!

Darkwolfeforever on Dec 19, 2011


Also would just like to say "My Faces Are Many My Sides Are Not Few I'm The Dodecahedron & Who Are You?"

Crystal on Mar 28, 2010


I only hope if they do make a new movie it doesn't destroy the old one. The old one NEEDS TO BE SEEN!!! It's truly a masterpiece, and is what I'd consider about as perfect a movie as can be. I can't see how they hope to compete with the utter amazingness of the original... I don't think they should make a new movie, just re-release the old one in theaters. After all, so few people have seen it. The problem with the original release of the film was that it was horribly under advertised because it came out right when MGM almost went under completely. It's not a flop!!! Also I can guarantee anybody who likes Chuck Jones would go to see this film (the original I mean.) Personally when I was a kid I got ADDICTED to this movie so I don't know what people mean when they say kids won't get it... I certainly got and LOVE the old one when I was a little kid and still do. And I WANT IT ON DVD!!! I don't think if they do a remake that it will hold a candle to the the original... anyway I'm sick of them re-making everything under the sun!!! Just because it was good once doesn't mean it needs to be done over and over and over and over... why can't they get some other things done. They need to make a decent video game based movie for once... and there are TONS of fairytales that haven't been done... anyway... sorry for ranting, but this does not need to be remade, just illuminated/promoted. Chuck Jones is one of my heros and I encourage everyone to go watch the original movie:

Ebalance on Apr 17, 2010


OMFJIEOJFPADFOISEJFDG no. the original was not a masterpiece, it was a disgusting bastardization of the perfection that was Norton Juster's novel. I"m really concerned that this will be anything like the Chuck Jones film, with the tacky, tasteless musical numbers and the distorted chronology. ARGH. i cringed through the whole film. in conclusion the animated was not good this sorely needs a remake and it better actually be true to the book. and Tock's body better danged be a clock. there are freaking pictures in the freaking books. make it look like that. 🙂 ok. rant over. well, except for now i'm going to go write my own Phantom Tollbooth screenplay to calm myself down. AND THEN I"M MAILING IT TO GARY ROSS.

vigilante on May 9, 2010


I never saw the original and seeing as it did so poorly not only am I unable to see it now, but I kind of don't want to (I'm not big into musicals). Just like vigilante, I am sick of people saying that the original movie is the masterpiece when obviously the true masterpiece is the book that it is based on. I have read this book so many times. It is straight up the best book ever. I would LOVE to see it remade because I don't think they'll be able to fuck up the remake of an already obonoxious movie. If they stay true to the book it will be golden:)

Alyse on May 23, 2010


BEST BOOK EVER! whenever anyone asks me my favorite book I always say phantom. Such a clever book that had created so much wonder. 🙂 No one ever knew what I was talking about, Im so exited for a movie. I never knew there was a movie on it before and Im exited to see that one also 😀 READ THE BOOK IF YOU HAVENT!

Michelle on Jul 28, 2010


Fantastic book... but the first movie version of it, the Chuck Jones version, was terrible in comparison. I've long hoped that Tim Burton would do this... much the way he did for James and the Giant Peach. He'd be perfect for this. hope Ross does it justice.

josh on Oct 15, 2010


i know that this is highly unproductive, but i'd just like to say that chuck jones is a genius and the original phantom tollbooth is a masterpiece, and if you think otherwise you're an uncultured ignoramus who needs to learn to appreciate great art. I'd also like to say that any form of a remake of The Phantom Tollbooth would be a complete blasphemy. Finally, there are too many people who haven't seen it ever, even though it has been shown a number of times on cartoon network (granted, the last time was more than a couple of years ago). It's on youtube people. Sit down. Watch it. The thought that a remake would ever be made of such cinematic splendor leaves me gagging.

liz on Oct 18, 2010


I completely agree! They couldn't possibly make it as good as the 1970 one... why are they even bothering? They should re-release the old one into theatres!!! 🙂

Erin Oliva on Aug 3, 2011


Y'know, Norton Juster, the guy that wrote The Phantom Tollbooth, thought the movie was "drivel". I'd hesitate to call him an uncultured ignoramus, but authors often are very critical of the adaptations of their work, occasionally to an unfair extent. The visionary director behind Pleasantville ought to produce a pretty interesting take on the Kingdom of Knowledge, though. I just hope he doesn't cast Tobey Maguire as Milo. 😛

Anonymous on Sep 10, 2011


Sorry, but Juster was right.  It was drivel.  Cute, but drivel.

Serai . on Oct 16, 2011


I never said it wasn't drivel, I was just saying that authors are harder on adaptations of their work than other people. Just ask Alan Moore.

Anonymous on Oct 16, 2011


I can't wait for this movie to come out. I read Phantom Tollbooth for the 1st time in third grade, and I still go back to reread it (I'm in college now). I don't know why I do but I just can't help it sometimes. 

CollegeKid 45 on Sep 21, 2011


"Masterpiece"?  Uh, no.  The 1970 version was a cute movie, but a pale shadow of the amazing book.  If this does get made, I hope it is NOT a remake of the film, but a whole new interpretation of Juster's wonderful tome.  If Ross doesn't fall prey to the hypermanic 3D jiggery-pokery style of kids' movies today, it should be wonderful.  Also, NO MUSICAL NUMBERS PLEASE.  That really crudded up the animated film for me.  Ross did a great job with Pleasantville; if this one is in the same general style, it should be fantastic.  Can't wait to see it!  (I also pray that it never falls into the hands of Tim Burton.  After the way he twisted Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland, he's the LAST person I'd want to see get his smarmy, self-inserting hands on Milo.  The gods only know what he'd do with that bored, incurious little chap.  Give him some stupid secret trauma to "work out", probably.  ARGH)

Serai . on Oct 16, 2011

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