‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,’ ‘Twilight’ stars coming to Park Ridge for ‘Boxcar Children’ screening

The star-studded cast of the upcoming animated movie “The Boxcar Children” will make an appearance in Park Ridge next week during a screening of the film at the Pickwick Theater.

The famed children’s tale about four young siblings living in an abandoned box car was published in 1924. Ninety years later, it’s been turned into a movie voiced by a cast of popular young actors who have also starred in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Twilight” franchises.

The book — originally published by Rand McNally — was reissued in 1942 by Park Ridge-based publisher Albert Whitman & Company, which has invited kids and their families to the screening event, which will be followed by a question and answer session with the directors and actors.

The Boxcar Children book series — which has since expanded to include 137 titles — is often passed down through generations, and the books remain popular among kids today, according to Annette Hobbs Magier, marketing manager at Albert Whitman & Company.

“It’s a big deal that this movie is coming out,” Hobbs Magier said “Kids are excited about it, and parents are too because they read it as children themselves.”

The original book in the series the movie is based on was named on the list of “Top 100 Chapter Books of All Time” in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.

The long-running popularity of the timeless tale sparked the idea for an animated film version, which was made under the direction of Hollywood directors Daniel Chuba and Mark A.A. Dippe.

To add to the film’s appeal to the younger generation, Chuba and Dippe tapped a few up-and-coming teen actors to voice the story’s main characters — Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” star Zachary Gordon plays Henry, the oldest sibling. Jadon Sand, most recently in “The Lego Movie,” plays Benny.

“Twilight: Breaking Dawn” parts 1 and 2 actress Mackenzie Foy voices Violet. Joey King, from “I Wish I Was Here” with Zach Braff, plays Violet’s sister Jessie in the film.

All four actors, along with the directors, will be at the screening event in Park Ridge on August 16.

Martin Sheen, who voices the grandfather character in the film, will not be in attendance.

The movie cast will answer questions following the screening, and 100 kids will be chosen via a drawing to meet the actors during a private photo and autograph session.

Hobbs Magier said when Albert Whitman & Co. planned the Pickwick screening, they had no idea the cast would show up.

“They somehow caught wind that we were having the screening, and [the actors] asked if they could come to it,” she said.

The movie won’t hit theaters, but was released “on demand” on Aug. 5, and will be released on DVD Aug. 19.

Hobbs Magier admitted that the movie has fallen slightly under the radar, but the actors have been spreading the word about its release via Twitter and other social media, and by making appearances at screenings like the event in Park Ridge.

“Pickwick was the perfect location [for the movie screening] because it’s a nice classic and historical theater, much like the book,” Hobbs Magier said.

Admission is free, but guests are asked to bring one book to donate to a Chicago-area literacy organization called Open Books. Every book donated will admit two guests, Hobbs Magier said.

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