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'Wimpy Kid' will return to theaters, tackle screen time battle

The Wimpy Kid will be returning to theaters, tackling a debate that every family can relate to: screen time vs. family time.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Wimpy Kid fans, rejoice! Just when you thought Greg Heffley might be gone from the big screen forever, a new Wimpy Kid movie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul," will begin filming in September, with some familiar and beloved faces in the cast.

Though the third Wimpy Kid movie, 2012's “Dog Days,” was supposed to be the last, creator Jeff Kinney told TODAY Parents that he and the other producers hope to start a new film trilogy for the series.

IMAGE: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The new movie is based on "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul."Abrams

“Everybody sort of missed doing them,” Kinney said. “The producers and studio execs went off and did other projects, but we all had good memories of shooting these movies. It’s been a happy place to be on these sets with big casts full of kids. It’s very different from other productions.”

The new movie, which Kinney said will blend elements of both “The Long Haul” and its sequel, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School,” covers a topic very relevant to today's parents. Greg convinces his parents to go on a road trip to attend his Meemaw’s 90th birthday celebration, but his secret agenda — to make his way to a nearby gamer convention — causes hijinks to ensue.

Kinney said the movie will tackle themes that “every family is talking about right now,” namely, the tension between screen time and face-to-face family time, and the notions of the “good old days” versus today’s version of childhood. “This is a chance for us to tell the contemporary family’s story and to do it in a humorous way,” said Kinney.

But GenXers, hold on to your newly purchased reading glasses. The roles of Greg's parents now will be played by Alicia Silverstone (“Clueless”) and Tom Everett Scott (“That Thing You Do!”).

“When Alicia Silverstone’s name was first floated, it caused quite a stir,” said Kinney. “Most people know her from ‘Clueless,’ but when I think of her, I remember her as a teenager in the Aerosmith videos from the ‘90s. Then you do the math and you realize, oh, yeah, she’s actually the right age for the role. I guess we all kind of grow up.”

Silverstone told TODAY Parents, “The Wimpy Kid books and films have brought such joy to so many families. I am thrilled to be joining the world Jeff Kinney has created.”

Kinney said he thinks a lot of moms will be rooting for Silverstone when they see her playing a mother of three children. “it will be a lot of fun for everyone,” he said.

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Because the original stars of the Wimpy Kid movies have now aged out of the roles, the new movie will star Jason Drucker as Greg Heffley and Owen Asztalos as his best buddy, Rowley Jefferson. Charlie Wright will play Greg’s older brother, rocker Rodrick.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” will be directed by David Bowers and produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson. The film does not yet have a release date.