Fantagraphics Books has announced that the Ghost World film, based on the Daniel Clowes graphic novel, will be released in June, somewhat later than previously announced (see 'Ghost World Movie Set...'). Directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb) with a screenplay by Daniel Clowes and Zwigoff, Ghost World is a true Hollywood anomaly -- a film about adolescents that doesn't rely on gross-out humor. Reports from those lucky enough to have seen a preview of Ghost World are extremely positive (see 'Ain't it Cool News'). Critical reaction to this film should be very positive, but the question remains whether the target audience can be weaned off fart jokes long enough to appreciate this sensitive slice of life drama.
The good news is that the film has a chance to do very well, and the even better news is that Ghost World is likely to be, at the very least, a cult film with a devoted following. This should provide retailers with an excellent opportunity to introduce new customers to the work of Dan Clowes. Fantagraphics is producing a film edition of the Ghost World trade, as well as an illustrated Ghost World Screenplay, which includes a new cover by Clowes and a full color section with behind-the-scenes photos. Because Clowes and Zwigoff do not want the screenplay to come out before the film debuts, publication of the screenplay (which was solicited in the January Previews for March delivery) will be delayed until June.
Books rank at the top of the movie-licensed merchandise heap. Even though the successful X-Men movie didn't move many toys (See 'Marvel's Bleak Financials'), it did end up boosting sales of X-Men books and comics. Books are generally easier and cheaper to stock and reorder than other kinds of movie-licensed goods -- and whenever a backlist of titles is available (such as with the works of Dan Clowes), the rewards for the retailer's outreach efforts can be substantial. So be ready, have the books in stock when the movie opens, and be willing to reorder aggressively when they start to sell. Take note of the reviews and box office numbers -- display the books associated with hit or hip films prominently in the store window if possible. If Ghost World becomes a High Fidelity-like cult hit, it could move a lot of books.