‘The School for Good and Evil’ director says the Netflix blockbuster is a different kind of fantasy

Kerry Washington and Charlize Theron as Professor Clarissa Dovey and Lady Lesso, The School for Good and Evil (2022)
Image via Netflix

The beauty of genre fiction boils down to its malleability, not just in possibility, but in the possibilities within the possibility; in the fantasy genre alone, we have the likes of high fantasy, dark fantasy, fairy tales, and even magic realism, depending on where one’s mind can go with it all.

And such beauty looks set to take center stage when The School for Good and Evil, the Paul Feig-directed film adaptation of the popular young adult fantasy novels of the same name, flutters into Netflix this October. The film follows the daunting plight of best friends Sophie and Agatha; the former a charming young lady who seems destined to become a princess, the latter more of an outcast that gets labeled as a witch. The girls soon find themselves kidnapped by the headmaster of the School for Good and Evil, a duality of institutions where students are molded into heroes and villains, and are ultimately trained to keep the world’s good and evil energies in balance.

They soon find that their fortunes have been reversed, causing Agatha to end up at the School for Good, whilst Sophie is placed in the School for Evil. Determined to find their way home, the two girls work together to make it happen, all while testing the limits of their friendship.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Paul Feig (Spy, Ghostbusters (2016)) recalled how he instantly fell in love with the film’s script and, subsequently, the books that it was based on.

“I’m always looking for female friendship stories — those are my favorite movies to make — and I’ve also always wanted to create a world, and I’ve never really had a chance to do that. I got to scratch the surface of it with Ghostbusters, but that was still our world. So this just had everything I wanted. It was only after I read the script that I started reading the books, and I fell in love with everything in them. They’re very dense books, very inventive and fun, like Alice in Wonderland.”

He would go on to explain how his angle with the film involved injecting a very specific kind of life into it; one that would be unique to this film, and one that would shine brightly.

“I want to work my way through all the genres, but fantasy was never a genre that I thought I would end up doing. It is a hard genre to do, and is a very specific genre. But once I read this and could visualize the world of it, it was really fun. Everybody knows Harry Potter, everybody knows Frozen, all those things, so my thought was, ‘what if we make it based on Art Nouveau?’”

The School for Good and Evil will release to Netflix on October 19.