American Girl tale to be a film

Times Staff Writer

The American Girl empire is pushing into a new frontier--movie theaters.

Walden Media, the independent production company owned by Colorado multibillionaire Philip Anschutz, will team with the makers of American Girl dolls to produce a film about one of the toy line's most popular young heroines, Kit Kittredge.

American Girl is a line of premium dolls geared toward young girls and equipped with a staggering array of accessories, enough to fill the new American Girl Place at the Grove in Los Angeles. The two-story hub also has hairstylists for dolls, a cafe for tea parties and stage performances of the doll's adventures.

The most famous American Girl line depicts young characters from different decades of the nation's history. An entire library of books (which have sold more than 111 million copies) and two made-for-television movies have chronicled their adventures; more than 12 million dolls have been sold.

Now, Anschutz's company will take one of them, a clever Ohio girl with a bobbed haircut, to theaters. Anschutz has shown a willingness to splurge in the name of projects that fit his view of wholesome and inspiring family fare. He paid half of the $180-million budget for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." That film succeeded in a big way -- unlike his previous gambles on remakes of "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Sahara."

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