Elizabeth Banks will star in and produce a film adaptation of The Magic School Bus, the beloved children's book franchise that spun off a popular '90s animated series and a recent Netflix revival. Banks will star as the teacher Ms. Frizzle, who takes a bus-load of students on extraordinary school field trips using a magic yellow bus. Banks follows in the footsteps of Lily Tomlin, who voiced Ms. Frizzle in both shows.
The new film will be a live-action/CGI hybrid with Banks producing with Brownstone partner Max Handelman, Marc Platt, Adam Siegel, and Scholastic Entertainment's Iole Lucchese and Caitlin Friedman. The executive producer is Alison Small of Brownstone. Sara Scott and Lexi Marta are overseeing for Universal Pictures and Ryan Chistians is overseeing for Marc Platt Productions. "We are delighted to bring to life the iconic Ms. Frizzle and her zest for knowledge and adventure in a fresh new way that inspires the next generation of kids to explore science and supports the dedicated teachers who help make science real and accessible for young learners every day," Lucchese said in a statement to Collider.
The Magic School Bus launched as a widely popular book series written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen. Each book followed the adventures of the students in Ms. Frizzle's class, who go on fantastic science-themed field trips. The titular Magic School Bus transforms into any mode of transportation Ms. Frizzle, her lizard Liz and the students need to get where they are going. The first book in the series was released in 1986, and Scholastic expanded the franchise with chapter books, a series of books featuring Liz and adaptations of TV episodes.
The franchise's popularity took off thanks to the first animated series, which ran from 1994 to 1997. Although only 52 episodes were produced, the show ran in syndication for another decade and has remained a beloved show. The series featured an opening title song by the late Little Richard.
In 2017, Netflix revived the franchise with The Magic School Bus Rides Again, featuring Tomlin as Ms. Frizzle, now a Ph. D., and Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon as her younger sister, Miss Fiona Frizzle. Lin-Manuel Miranda recorded a new version of the theme song, while Marin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Will Arnett and Sandrah Oh played guest roles. Both The Magic School Bus and Rides Again are available to stream on Netflix.