Hollywood's 25 Most Powerful Authors
The man who toppled Twilight from the apex of the YA best-seller lists in 2010 is a geeky suburban dad from Massachusetts with a full Guitar Hero: Rock Band setup in his office and skateboard ramps littering his backyard basketball court. He also oversees the multimedia juggernaut that is Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which made the leap from popular web comic to books in 2007. The past two years, each November release of a Wimpy Kid has sold more than 3.3 million copies — No. 7, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, arrived Nov. 13. Plus, there are toys, games, clothing and tie-ins. (Kinney’s favorite: the Wimpy Kid Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float.)
In 2010, Kinney, as an executive producer, helped shepherd the series to the screen. The $15 million film grossed $75 million worldwide, and sequels in 2011 and 2012 each grossed more than $70 million. Key for Kinney was making sure the titular wimpy kid remained an “imperfect character, pushing back against early drafts that recast him as an everykid who was a victim of his circumstances.” Still, he went along with the addition of a female character (Chloe Grace Moretz in the first film) to broaden the movie’s appeal. A fan of the late Charles Schulz, Kinney is fulfilling a dream by developing an animated Wimpy Kid holiday special for Fox. He says animation “feels like the next logical life for the property.” He’s also developing an animated series based on characters on his kids-oriented Poptropica website, which draws more than 4 million unique visitors a month.