Peep contests inspire film

Just like a marshmallow treat stuck in the microwave, the Peeps' popularity is about to explode.

On Tuesday, just one day after the close of the PEEPshow at the Carroll Arts Center, filmmaker Adam Rifkin, who wrote the films "MouseHunt" and "Small Soldiers" and directed "Detroit Rock City," announced that he had optioned the film and television rights to the Peeps candy.

He also announced a proposal for a feature-length film set at a Peeps sculpture competition.

Rifkin said the pitch follows the adventures of a Peep who gets separated from his diorama the night before a Peeps contest, in the vein of Carroll's PEEPshow. To return to his friends and proper place, he has to travel through the other dioramas, entering the world of each as he tries to make it home.

"This pitch gives us the opportunity to have our hero Peep traverse different movies and historical periods," Rifkin said. "People create the most elaborate scenarios. They create ancient Roman gladiators and movie recreations."

Rifkin said he was inspired by The Washington Post's Peeps Show diorama contest, the same contest that Carroll Arts Council director Sandy Oxx expanded upon to create the PEEPshow in 2008, one year after the debut of the Post's contest.

"I'm delighted that other people share my obsession with the Peeps," Oxx said. "I think it's a fantastically fun idea. I hope they premiere it here, since, I think I can confidently say, we've got the best Peep show in the country."

Rifkin said now that the property has been optioned, the next step is to find financing partners and complete the story outline and script. He said the film will be bookended with live-action segments, though they haven't decided whether the Peep-centric portions of the film will be completed with stop motion or computer animation.

"To me, it's all fun. The people who don't get it, when they see the sense of humor in the movie, will get on board," Rifkin said. "It's so easy for people to get cynical about movies about toys or movies about rides, or movies about candy even, but then lo and behold 'The Lego Movie' comes out or 'Pirates of the Caribbean' comes out, and it's great, so it shuts everyone up."

Just Born Inc., the manufacturer of Peeps candy, released a statement saying they encourage all creative endeavors featuring Peeps, from the upcoming film to local Peep sculpture shows like the one in Westminster.

Oxx and Rifkin both said they feel there is something special about the Peep that other candies don't have.

"That's the amazing thing about Peeps. Out of all the candies in the world, this is the only one that has created this cult," Rifkin said. "Peeps have completely transcended beyond this candy and become this pop-culture phenomenon."

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