Hearts around the world were warmed earlier this year when Sony Pictures released its first image of Tom Hanks suited up for his role as Fred Rogers in the upcoming movie about Rogers’ incredible life of gentle love for children. Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers is an equation hardwired to explode hearts around the world with delight, so this movie jumped to the top of a lot of people’s Most Anticipated Movies of 2019 lists. And now, it has a title.
Yep, the movie will be called It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. That makes a lot of sense, even if it’s maybe not quite as good a title as Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which was the title of the Fred Rogers documentary that came out earlier in 2018.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor set a high bar for Mister Rogers movies, providing an astonishing, intimate look at a very unusual man who was able to deploy his unique sensitivity and gift for communication towards making children feel safe, valued and loved through a television screen. So It’s a Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood has book shoes to fill, but there’s reason to be optimistic.
The movie will be directed by Marielle Heller, who’s made a career out of quiet, excellent little movies like the Melissa McCarthy-starring Can You Ever Forgive Me? and 2015’s very good Diary of a Teenage Girl (Heller has a thing for long movie titles, it seems.) The script is being written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, who garnered attention for their work on the Amazon Prime original series Transparent.
During his life, Rogers made no secret of his Christian convictions, and how they motivated him to do the work that made him a household name across America. He was a Presbyterian minister with a divinity degree, and he viewed his work as a children’s show host in pastoral terms. “The space between the TV screen and whoever is watching is very holy ground,” he said once, and he took that belief seriously. We’ll see if the movie based on his life follows suit this October.