Hey everyone, and I know it’s been some time, but I figured that since I stated that I was working on a script to a film adaptation of the Poptropica franchise, I figured that I’d talk about what’s happening with that! But before I begin, I’d like to say a few things. First, I’d like to thank Slanted Fish from the Poptropica Help Blog for exposing my Diary of a Wimpy Fall post to the audience that matters – it is important for the fans’ voices to be heard during these uncertain times for the game we love the most, and I greatly appreciate it!
Also, as I typed this post, I realized that it was getting too long even for me, and it has two distinct sections anyway. The first section, which is what this post is about, discusses the case for a Poptropica movie or television series, why it doesn’t seem terribly feasible or even reasonable right now and why it ultimately should happen. The second section will discuss my actual script, but if you can’t wait, don’t worry – for this first section also provides a teaser as to what’s in the script, as well as a synopsis of the movie. I also felt that it was better to do it this way, so I can see what fans think before I proceed. Some of the most hyped films are those that let the fans know that they care about them, and this is what I hope to achieve. Finally, I’d like to give a heads up to obvious spoilers to the media. So, with that being said, let’s pop to it!
Okay, What Even Is This?
Some of you may wonder why I am even doing this because of one of two reasons, maybe both. The first may be that Poptropica isn’t exactly doing so well right now even with the recent release of Poptropica World’s latest island, Greek Sea Odyssey. When I got the news of Mitch Krpata, Nate Greenwall and Lance Fry getting laid off, I was heartbroken. My heart goes out to all of them, especially Krpata. I previously voiced my respect for him as a storyteller, and he definitely didn’t deserve that. He brought so much lore to the Poptropica franchise with his contribution to the graphic novels, of which I use much of their material for my movie script. I even got convinced that if there was anybody besides Jeff Kinney that could’ve saved the game, it was him. I don’t know if he or Greenwall or Fry could come back even if or when Kinney comes back. But if not, I hope that someone out there gives those developers back the power and respect they deserve. We need more people like them in the entertainment industry, and so this script is for them.
I was just as heartbroken to hear about Poptropica’s subsequent mass unfollowing of accounts on social media. This pretty much means that our voices won’t even be heard anymore, which is crucial to saving the game right now. Both of these are pivotal moments in the ongoing fall of Jeff Kinney’s franchises, but it won’t end there. I hate to sound negative, and I will always love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but if Kinney announces a 13th book, which he usually does this time of year, things are about to get much worse. If Poptropica won’t listen to us, maybe we can direct our efforts to getting the attention of Kinney himself, perhaps a hashtag that effectively describes the situation.
The second reason may be that even at the height of its popularity, Poptropica never quite enjoyed the recognition that other franchises have had. Yes, it did spawn something of a merchandise and toy line, a comic strip, various books and apps and even a short-lived video game series. But when really thinking about it, none of it actually exploded into something that became genuinely popular. Looking back at history, Poptropica notably couldn’t get a Lego set off the ground (though to be fair, everyone did try), those awesome customizable t-shirts are no longer even obtainable, and even when I did see most of everything else in stores, it was only for a brief time. Then consider Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and look no farther than the fact that Greg Heffley has a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, when the iconic Poptropica blimp could’ve also gotten one, which would be even more fitting for the parade. Enough said.
So, it makes sense why some may say that a film or even a television adaptation doesn’t seem terribly feasible or reasonable, and feasibly speaking, they’re right. In my post about the Diary of a Wimpy Fall, I discuss the reasons why Poptropica isn’t as known as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, despite the fact that they’re both created by Kinney, as well as the reasons for the declining quality in both franchises. I also explain how Kinney needs to redirect the resources he gained from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to StoryArc Media, so that Poptropica can get the power that it needs to get out of its current situation, restore its former glory and then surpass that so that a major adaptation can happen. Reasonably speaking, though? That’s a whole other thing.
The Idea of the Virtual World Adaptation
While thinking about this whole thing, it occurred to me that virtual worlds in general are a largely untapped medium in film and even television. This is all the more interesting in an age that seems to be adapting just about anything that it can for these mediums, and the closest such media right now to virtual worlds are video games (even if nearly all adaptations are sadly lacking), apps (say what you will about their reasonability, though The Angry Birds Movie mostly worked) and perhaps even toys such as The Lego Movie franchise (Oh, the emojis? Um…don’t know what you’re talking about).
Aside from Poptropica, there are so many other virtual worlds that, while I can’t speak for all of them, contain varying degrees of potential to be adapted into film and television. Especially in today’s movie climate, people are interested in new things instead of sequels and reboots, and this interest in adapting as much media as possible is partly to blame. For this alone, a Poptropica film or TV show or just any kind of major virtual world adaptation makes sense. It would not only be an original idea that would immediately interest audiences, but the goldmines of potential that virtual worlds possess means that if done right, such adaptations can be something that audiences can truly enjoy and appreciate. So why shouldn’t Poptropica lead this charge, before another virtual world potentially beats them to it?
The craziest part about this is that Jeff Kinney is aware of this. When Sandbox Networks acquired StoryArc Media in June 2015 (then called the Family Education Network), Kinney actually brought up the first official statements regarding the idea of a Poptropica film adaptation:
It’s a big day for Family Education Network and I’m proud to be part of this next chapter. The Sandbox team truly understands the informal learning space, what kids want, and how important it is to reach out to parents and teachers at the same time. They will support us with establishing Poptropica as a consumer storytelling brand for all media, languages, territories, and delivery devices, for generations to come, and I’m delighted that in time we’ll be seeing the stories and characters from FEN brought to life on the big screen.
And What About Poptropica In Particular?
Ignore the latest developments of the franchise for a minute. Ignore the popularity that leaves much to be desired for a minute. Let’s just embrace the universe as a whole, and everything that all the media has provided and established up to this point in order to understand why a film or television adaptation of Poptropica is so reasonable. So, what is Poptropica, anyway? Is it a virtual world? An alternate universe? It just might be both. Poptropica’s past remained a mystery for years, until Poptropica: Forgotten Islands finally revealed quite a bit about its history.
According to the game, Poptropica started out as a single landmass. Then a series of cataclysmic battles between giants and monsters took place in an attempt to rule the great land. However, no clear winner emerged. Instead, the beasts’ great power caused the very land they were fighting for to crumble beneath them, triggering what became known as The Great Flood. It would be this flood that would create the islands of Poptropica as they are known today. The original Poptropicans who inhabited the landmass prior to the flood fled underground to escape the destruction, where they emerged many years later as the Mabaya. Poptropicans from distant lands then landed on their islands, who called themselves the Trinity Syndicate.
The Syndicate attempted to colonize these lands which escalated into a war between the groups, and during this war, monks set out to protect the artifacts that would allow the aforementioned history to be documented. The war ended in a Mabaya victory, enticing the Syndicate to flee back to their lands in an attempt to save their pride. But they were forced to make peace with their enemies and remain inhabitants on the islands when they learned that their own people, wretched with greed, were unwilling to take them back. Later, pirates arrived on these islands who ironically attacked the Syndicate themselves, when they were saved by a young hero.
And that’s just Forgotten Islands. Other media such as the graphic novels revealed even more about Poptropica, such as its peacekeeping organization, the Protectors, and their purpose of protecting Poptropica’s unique time-based properties as a highway of history. Time periods frequently stop their progression in time to occur on some islands, with such islands often occurring simultaneously. They periodically disappear and reappear, allowing a traveler to essentially travel through time without the use of a time machine. Astro-Knights, Mythology, Skullduggery, Mystery Train, Wild West, Arabian Nights and Greek Sea Odyssey are just a few of such islands. Even when these time periods slip back into the time stream, one can head to Time Tangled Island and actually use a time machine invented by Poptropica’s preeminent scientist, Professor Peter P. Pendulum, to continue their travels.
The graphic novels also revealed the nature of Poptropica’s connection to our world, in which Poptropica is not just an alternate universe but a collection of such universes. Poptropica specifically uses the many-worlds interpretation variant of multiverse theory, in which even the most minor events cause the creation of new timelines, to the point that every possible event that could’ve happened in our timeline happened in other timelines.
Aside from the islands in which time periods settle, many other islands also disappear and reappear, which originate from and move across these multiple universes through a collection of time crystals at the heart of Poptropica known as the Nexus. This offers much explanation for Poptropica Worlds, the infinite worlds one can encounter and create in Poptropica Realms, the connection to our real world (which Poptropicans may perceive as just another world), and the children’s book characters and properties that also occur on some islands such as Nabooti, Big Nate, Great Pumpkin, Wimpy Wonderland, Red Dragon, Wimpy Boardwalk, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Galactic Hot Dogs and Timmy Failure. It also explains why Poptropolis Games sinks and rises every 100 years, why the islands in the online games don’t appear in the graphic novels, comic strip and Forgotten Islands, and vice versa.
Travel from Earth to Poptropica and back is generally not controllable. The graphic novels show that one can accidentally end up in Poptropica via strange portal-opening storms. Interestingly, the comic strip shows another means via scientific accidents.
However, one gains much control over this travel via access to time crystals from the Nexus. There is also one island in particular that could hypothetically allow travel back to Earth: Mocktropica Island, which explains how Poptropica is also a virtual world. Admittedly, because it hasn’t been explained too well how Mocktropica Island fits into the Poptropica universe, this next part isn’t terribly rooted in fact and comes more from my movie script. But from what I get, Mocktropica is the result of Poptropica being discovered by computer programmers, when they caught sight of and entered its portal-opening storms in 2007. Inspired by what they saw, they made a virtual world based on their findings, deciding to not reveal Poptropica’s existence to the world in order to fool the public into thinking it was an original idea.
However, instead of making a game about what they found, they decided to build the game through Poptropica itself. This essentially made the game a window to Poptropica, and with the right technology, a portal to Poptropica through cyberspace. This could explain the comic strip’s technologically-based means of accessing Poptropica, how the player goes so far as to end up in Poptropica’s servers during the Mocktropica Island quest, and how Poptropica’s rival developers at the Mega Fighting Bots website got to Poptropica in the first place. The Protectors allowed them to do this as long as it did not allow a global catastrophic risk to either Poptropica or Earth, which the programmers promised to do, and Spencer Albright watched over the project.
The programmers began by settling on an uninhabited island which they called Mocktropica Island, then building Poptropica Worldwide Headquarters and the technology that would serve as the bridge between Poptropica and cyberspace, and cyberspace and Earth. From there, they were able to properly travel between Poptropica and Earth this way, allowing them to build the game from not just the outside (telling the public that this was the only way they built it), but from the inside as well (telling the public that Mocktropica Island was just a metafictional idea).
The game would prove to have a powerful influence on Poptropica, as expanding the window would require technological interference to the islands that would be featured in the game. Although most of it is harmless, when the programmers started out on Early Poptropica Island, they were still learning. This could explain the 8-bit designs of the pilgrims, in which they were still trying to understand the designs of Poptropicans until they perfected the technology. But even today, the programmers aren’t perfect. Glitches are accidentally created that occasionally menace Poptropicans, which the programmers usually fix without much difficulty. And events such as the Mocktropica Island quest happen. Even so, none of these events were considered great enough for the Protectors to shut the game down. Whew!
And if this explanation of the Poptropica universe isn’t enough to convince you that the franchise is worthy of a film or television adaptation, consider the stories that can be told of characters such as Ned Noodlehead, Super Power Island’s premier crime fighter who is at odds with the fact that he is the brother to supervillain Betty Jetty. Or C.J., the genius of Shrink Ray Island who designed its namesake device, or the day-to-day activities of the Protectors. Or the story of how the blimp was built on Monkey Wrench Island, or what a typical day on the island is like for Crusoe. Perhaps the most obvious stories to tell, however, are the antics of Oliver Hartman, Jorge Flores and Mya Wong, or maybe even a typical day at work for a Poptropicanized Jeff Kinney (dare we dream).
And that’s not even getting to the rich rouges gallery of villains that have been created over the years to oppose these heroes, as well as some of their interesting and overlooked origin stories that could be touched upon as well. Dr. Hare, Copy Cat, Speedy Spike, Sir Rebral, Ratman, Crusher, Betty Jetty, Director D., Vince Graves, Binary Bard, Black Widow, Zeus, Medusa, Captain Crawfish, Gretchen Grimlock, El Mustachio Grande, Mr. Silva, E. Vile, Ringmaster Raven, Myron Van Buren, Omegon, Princess Scheherazade, Octavian, Red Baroness…the possibilities are endless. Even Dr. Cumulo Nimbus from the Blimp Adventure DLC quest, Arthur Eraser from the Pencil Warrior coloring book, and perhaps even the infamous Afro Guy glitch present some interesting antagonistic potential. And when you take all these things into consideration, you can get a synopsis like this:
Oliver Hartman just may be the coolest kid in school. He may be popular, he may have the looks, but he will soon learn that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. He’s also got the smarts, hiding a machine from his genius-hating peers that could save the world. They make him bully kids such as Jorge Flores. He’s also got something of a distant relationship with his half-sister, Mya Wong, that he can’t quite understand.
But things are about to change when his mother learns of his actions and takes him to the science fair to inspire his intelligence. And in doing so, a malfunctioning science project thrusts Oliver, Jorge and Mya into Poptropica, an alternate world consisting of an uncharted group of islands whose existence is only known from an online game. As the kids try to find a way back to Earth, little do they know is that Octavian, a staff member at the school, was a Poptropican and former member of its peacekeeping organization, the Protectors, who exiled him to Earth for his views on governing time and space and his crimes with the organization’s time crystals.
And now that he’s managed to follow the kids back home, he’s redirecting his plans elsewhere to get his revenge. Plans that involve where the game was built at Mocktropica Island, and a disastrous glitch named Afro Guy accidentally created by the developers, of which Octavian was the only Protector that ever saw him before he was successfully contained. And with the game already connecting Poptropica and Earth together, Octavian’s plans threaten the existence of both worlds. With much at stake, get ready for high-octane adventures as Oliver realizes who his true friends are – and just how important his intellect may be. Get ready to explore, collect and compete!
And let’s not forget the soundtrack – I’m thinking an epic remix of Jeff Heim’s music. A remix of the Home Island theme can play at the beginning of the movie, as Spencer Albright explains Poptropica’s history via voice over, accompanied with breathtaking illustrative visuals. 😀
With that being said, a film or television adaptation of Poptropica, or just of virtual worlds in general, just has to happen. It’s not the first thing that can be done to restore Poptropica’s greatness, but it’s the ultimate dream for the fanbase that can be achieved once Jeff Kinney shifts his focus as I previously explained. Although I have all the major ideas for the script, I’m still working on the details and putting it all together. This is where the fans could come in, and I’m totally open to adjusting the script accordingly to whatever the fanbase believes is the best route to take with it. The game may not be thinking big right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t.
Until then, pop on, folks. 😉