Blue Sky to produce Charlie Brown feature

Deadline Hollywood broke the news this morning that 20th Century-Fox and Blue Sky Studios will produce a new feature length movie starring Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. The film is targeted for release on November 25th, 2015, a date that commemorates the 65th anniversary of the comic strip by Charles Schulz (which began Oct. 2nd 1950), and the 50th anniversary of the TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas (which first aired December 9th, 1965). It’ll also be 35 years since the release of the last theatrical Peanuts animated feature, Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!), from Paramount in 1980.

Steve Martino (Horton Hears A Who!, Ice Age: Continental Drift) will direct from a screenplay is by Craig Schulz and the writing team of Bryan Schulz & Cornelius Uliano. Craig Schulz and Bryan Schulz, who are Schulz’s son and grandson, will produce with Uliano.

Since Schulz death in 2000, I’ve been impressed how well the Schulz family has managed the Peanuts characters and brand. Unlike the Dr. Seuss estate, the Schulz team has produced a wonderful direct-to-video film, a new comic book (from KaBoom) and merchandising that honors Charles Schulz and his legacy. Let us hope that this move into CG territory is handled with the same good taste.


  • http://youtube.com/drexelboi1991 tedzey71

    While I don’t mind computer animation as much as the guy next to me, but I think this is a bad move in regards to the property. The Peanuts were always neat in a 2-dimensional setting. I remember once seeing a video with a cg snoopy and it didn’t look good. I might like Blue Sky and “Horton Hears a Who” is one of my favorite computer animated films, but this is one I’m not looking forward to…

  • http://deaniac.deviantart.com Deaniac

    On one hand, you’ve got Schulz’s son and grandson working on the project…on the other hand, CG Peanuts.

    I’m not sure how to feel right now.

  • MissConception

    Good grief… -_-

    • Céu D’Ellia

      Canned poetry: Rubber masks

  • the Gee

    Weird.
    While it is probably somehow good-not great, just good news that they are attempting this, it is hard to be excited about it.

    Blue Sky is good at what they’ve done and I won’t diss on how they may handle the characters. Some say their “Horton” was good, right?

    But, there’s something about the potential length of whatever they end up doing. Long form Peanuts animation take forever to end.

    But, hey. They made a stage play with the characters so maybe another long form piece can work just fine. But, animated, based on the original strips somehow? It is like it would nice to work on but not so nice to watch. (Sorry to say that but I’m serious. And, if I’m the only one who can’t get into longform “Peanuts”, even in Schulz’s original strips, because EPIC ain’t always Poetry or Hilarious it usually ends up being boring…if it is just me who’s never enthused about that, that’s fine).

    Someone tell me that it can work well. Was the direct-to-DVD “Happiness is…” really good in other people’s eyes?

  • http://agoynamedjew.blogspot.com Anson J

    The trademark qualities of Peanuts are more intellectual than visual. It’s mostly about ideas — expressed by people talking and thinking. I’m skeptical that CGI — a medium in which its strengths are all about motion and simulating the external properties of things, can really do the property justice. It would be like doing a first person, real time, 3D, video shooter of a chess game. Really, swooping camera movements and realistic hair simulations are more likely to detract from, rather than add to Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown, IMHO.

    • Popcornboy20

      THIS sums up the problem precisely. I hope we’re wrong, hope that they are able to find an art style which serves the slower, thought provoking pace of Peanuts. To any estate which can deny itself from falling into the “profits over quality” trap, I only offer my highest hopes for success.

    • dan

      Wow! Really well said! You’re absolutely right!

    • Jacob C.

      At the same time, you could also argue that this is the same reason a CGI Peanuts COULD be successful. If the philosophies and wit of the strip are still upheld, it shouldn’t matter what storytelling medium is used. As long as the CGI is handled with taste and doesn’t distract from the heart of the characters and story, it could be really great. I’m definitely with you in hoping that it is.

  • wever

    I’m fairly tame in reaction this, only because I used up all my screaming from the past decade or so of Hollywood releasing news I don’t want to hear.

  • JP

    I don’t see anywhere where it says this will be done in CGI. Maybe they’re doing a 2-D version after all?

    • Funkybat

      That would be nice. I know Pixar (or at least certain factions within it) would love to do some 2D work, maybe Blue Sky can get in on that.

  • T.D.

    You’ll be won over about the CG once Snoopy and Charlie Brown start their epic rap battle all the while doing epic skateboard tricks.

  • http://www.amidamidi.com Amid

    “The technology is where we need it to be to create this film.” —Charles Schulz’s son Craig on new CG PEANUTS.

    Clearly, the only factor holding back a proper animated PEANUTS adaptation has been the technology. Remember how Charles Schulz used to talk about all of the high-end technology he used to make the original comics appealing and charming?

    • DW

      Snide commentary aside, perhaps Craig’s talking about the tech having advanced to a state where you can do things like Disney’s “Paperman” via computer animation:

      http://www.itsartmag.com/features/paperman-breakdown/

      …and thus can leverage the strengths of Blue Sky with the look of Schulz.

      I’m not going to be critical of it until I see some moving imagery.

  • http://www.scottshawsoddballcomics.com Scott Shaw!

    Charles Schulz’s slightly meandering linework — which increased in its wonderful wiggliness over the years — was a very important element of PEANUTS’ appeal. As good a cartoonist as Schulz was, his inking style added a lot of energy and personality to his drawing. I think it will be impossible to capture this in CG.

  • Jennifer

    Good grief.
    They’re going to kill it with the same ole’ zippy animation they do for every film.

  • beamish13

    Aesthetically, it’ll probably resemble the latest Met Life commercials with the Peanuts troop.

  • top cat james

    If they can make it look like those old 3-D Peanuts View-Master reels, I’m in!

    • dbenson

      I picked up a set of those, the ones with physical models set against solid color drops — Highly nostalgic but frankly awful as renditions of the strip.

      The first few TV specials were off-model as well, but they compensated with an appeal of their own: the kid voices, the whimsically busy backgrounds (compared to Schulz’s own minimal, “deadpan” settings), and the animation. And a Snoopy who was more silent comedian than dry-witted wise guy (thank heaven they never tried to give him a voice).

      The animated Peanuts became duller as they improved technically, more exactly imitating the look of Schulz without being Schulz. Maybe a loose adaptation would be a better thing.

    • http://www.patnlewis.com Pat Lewis

      I was thinking the same thing…but then again, I had the same hope for the CGI Yogi Bear movie.

  • http://time.com Harry McCracken

    It sounds terrifying. The look and feel of Peanuts is all about ONE MAN dipping his pen in ink and then scritch-scratching in across a piece of bristol board. CGI animation’s pointless obsession with photorealism is probably going to lead to us seeing the sweat on Pig-Pen’s upper lip, the dirt on Charlie Brown’s baseball, Sally’s flyaway hair, etc.

    Offhand, I can’t recall any CGI feature successfully retaining the flavor of anything that originated elsewhere (or, really, trying to). They all get dumbed down into the same sensibility.

    Then again, View-Master proved decades ago that it’s possible to do appealing 3D models of Schulz’s characters. And I think the Schulz estate is at least trying to do right by Sparky’s work.

    • Joseph

      I agree that CGI adaptations of non-filmic source material don’t bother trying to emulate the original style, but its not fair to say that all the movies wind up looking the same. Tintin was very different from Herge but very creative in its own way.

      • http://time.com Harry McCracken

        I don’t count mo-cap features as CGI — they’re a different animal. And Tintin suffered horribly from pointless hyperrealism.

        –Harry

  • JP

    I thought “Happiness is a Warm Blanket” used some odd camera angles and character positions that strayed from the classic Peanuts tradition. There’s something about the simple Peanuts style where less-is-more. I hope this new feature film doesn’t go overboard.

    Related to your Snoopy opinions… Have you seen the 2008 Peanuts Motion Comics series? I believe these 2-D shorts were animated in Flash–but if you give them a chance, they’re actually quite good. They really retain the charm of the original strip–in part, by having Snoopy’s thought bubbles appear on screen. It was a radical departure from Bill Melendez voicing Snoopy for so many years, but it allowed Snoopy to deliver some punch lines or advance the plot (without Charlie Brown having to explain his dog’s actions, as is typical in every other animated Peanuts special.)

  • http://www.slaptoons.com Gavin F

    It kind of excites me about the feature, but the CG will completely change the characters. Andy Beall did a fantastic job on “Happiness is a Warm Blanket”, I thought that it couldn’t be duplicated ever again. I’m hoping this also changes my thinking, but I do trust the Schulz family. I think Blue Sky will do a good job however.

  • http://dtoons.com Dtoons

    There so many ways this can go horribly wrong, but Hotel Transylvania showed me that CG cartoons can follow 2D designs and aesthetics to a T. They can stay true to the designs, avoid crazy camera angles, and be animated to look just like the specials.
    For decades, even after Schultz death, the characters have always stayed true to themselves. I hope the movie will at least be as fun and thrilling as “Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown.” Anything less would kind of be a little dull to sit through for 70-90 minutes.

  • http://mattmaners.blogspot.com Matthew Maners

    Keith Lango posted a CG Charlie Brown test he was working on for some smaller studio maybe 2 years ago. Not sure if it is still up on his site but it looked pretty good. I dont think Blue Sky has any intention of trying to make it look bad. As usual let us wait and see.

  • Kevin

    The quality of the Peanuts tv legacy is pretty inconsistent when you take off the nostalgia specs. I thought the “Happiness is…” direct-to-dvd special was just OK. After what they did with the look and feel of “Horton Hears a Who” I’m not sure Blue Sky is going to give us the same Peanuts we saw in the newspaper.

  • http://mattmaners.blogspot.com Matthew Maners

    http://keithlango.com/video/_forBlog/CharlieBrown_proofConceptTest.mov

    Found the test, better than what I remembered. Take a look.

  • http://www.whereisolifant.com Doug

    like

  • http://nachosconcarne.cartoonsdammit.com Kitschensyngk

    I’d always feared this day would come. A CG Peanuts movie.

    I’m more than a little concerned with how Schulz’s two-dimensional drawing style will translate in a three-dimensional CG environment. I pray they don’t end up looking like over-sized Fisher-Price Little People.

    I also don’t want Jim Carrey voicing Snoopy or anything like that.

    Considering the Schulz family picked the studio themselves and are also writing and producing, I’ll withhold judgment for now until I see some actual artwork.

    • http://time.com Harry McCracken

      Good point. It’s going to be a good sign if no celebs are involved in the voice cast, and a very bad sign if they are.

      • Funkybat

        If they actually go forward with this, they need to have actual kids do the voices, as they did in the Melendez specials. Though they often rotated through different actors, they generally hewed to a certain vocal range, and therefore they were accepted as the character they were assigned to, even if they sounded kind of different than they did in the previous special or film.

        No celebs, no gimmick casting. Let the beloved characters and the “now in CG!” aspect sell the thing.

  • Doug

    Don’t like.

  • Jow

    Could’ve the Schultz family have chosen Pixar?

  • Sarah

    In theory IT sounds like Blue Sky’s best project to date.
    Does this mean Ice Age has finally melted down… hopefully.
    Congratulations to Blue Sky on finally finding an original property! Wishing you luck anyway.

  • http://www.hobsonanimation.com Kevin

    I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, you’re having Blue Sky produce it, which is well known for making character driven films which would go well with Peanuts. On the other hand, they’d do it in CGI.

    They could mess it up in two ways. Redesign the cast and make them like Chipmunks & Smurfs. Or treat it like Paramount did TinTin, only making it creepy and unpleasant.

    Charlie Brown has always been made using paint colors in every movie and special. My only hope, is that they just use CGI with the backgrounds and do the characters in 2D.

  • http://mrcontro.tumblr.com Tres Swygert

    You think the one project, the ONE project that could be done very well for the box office using hand drawn animation…is going to be instead be done using CGI. Who else BUT the Peanuts to usher in back the success and joy of hand drawn animation for a theatrical release?!

    There are so many generations that been touched by the designs and movement done with pencil, paper, and ink. It just saddens me that they direction thinks it needs to be CGI to be successful….the model has been a success, why wreck the train?! Not thrilled about this news at all.

    • Jow

      Mabye it’ll be like, the film’s in CGI, but it LOOKS like 2D.

      Just like how Aardman made a CGI film, but made it look like Stop Motion (Flushed Away).

      Besides, CGI or not, nobody (NOBODY) can ruin Peanuts.

      Not even Michael Bay.

  • Liam Scanlan
  • Somewhat of a Purist

    OK, I was exited until I found out it was CGI…would it kill any animation studio to use 2D software for once?

    • Bob Stayoffthegrass

      Would it kill you to not act like it’s the end of the world if we get 3D Peanuts?

  • Dave

    Did you guys know that Happiness is a Warm Blanket was made at Wild Brain in Sherman Oaks CA. Animation was traditional and sent over seas.

  • http://mattmaners.blogspot.com Matthew Maners

    Personally I dont think the Peanuts would be the 2D film to put 2D back on the map, it would do the opposite. Now if you want 2D to come back then Disney needs to make “Big Hero Six” in 2D, now you got something but not the Peanuts. I am sure Blue Sky will do a great job. Still cant wait to see Leaf Men.

  • Joel

    Aside from the very risky transition from Schulz’s unique visual style to 3D CG, I’m extremely worried about how the characters and feel of the strip will be adapted, especially by Blue Sky Studios. They’re visually impeccable, but story/character-wise, I don’t think they have a track record worthy of adapting such a beloved, inimitable, and personal property as “Peanuts.” I think Pixar has proven themselves much more capable of telling a good story.

    • James

      While “Horton” wasn’t bad, “The Lorax” embodied everything that is hollow and artificial in adapting such timeless franchises.

      If that one is anything to go by, frantic chase scenes, rap/”classic rock” montage sequences, and irritatingly-high-pitched-cuddly-animals-on-speed making-Alvin’s-chipmunks-sound-like-Sinatra are just a few things this movie needs to worry about.

      • Jeff

        The Lorax wasn’t made by Blue Sky.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I couldn’t argue with Jerry on that one. The Schulz family certainly did far better to keep Sparky’s creation in the public eye in one piece.

      • http://www.portfolio-powell.blogspot.com Chris Powell

        Blue Sky didnt make ‘Lorax’, that was ‘Illumination’ the guys who made ‘Despicable me’. But i still agree with you that it looked like a horrible translation :)

  • Kevin Martinez

    Please Blue Sky, do not give any of the characters those hideous “realistic” eyes with huge pupils and irises.

    Even if you add in fart jokes, or pop culture references, or a dance party ending, or faux-Pixar sentimentality or any of the other usual CGI kiddie movie sins, at least spare the characters that.

  • http://www.bunkerrow.blogspot.com Chris Powell

    I think some have asked a good Question: Do we KNOW its CGI? and another thought could it possibly be CGI made to look like 2D?

    CG used for these characters is just bad news all around.!!!!!

  • http://www.kicreativestudio.blogspot.com Ki Innis

    ” I knew that they were leery because of what animator they picked because they didn’t want that animator to change their character…. One thing I don’t like to do is change someone’s design. Never.” – Bill Melendez.

    Like someone said before, there was no note of this being a CG feature. For all we know this could be the coup d’etat for hand-drawn animation we have all been waiting for. A vehicle that would have a guaranteed large audience and prove to producers that YES, people really do want to see hand-drawn features and will pay to see it.

    For all we know, Dick Williams might even be on board this project.

    ……but then again, that would be too good to be true wouldn’t it?

  • Darin Kirschner

    Steve Martino is heading this film. That gives me great hope. I have worked with and been mentored by Steve and he is a caring, meticulous and brilliant animator and director. If Steve gets his way, this film will not stray.

  • James

    Well, it could be worse.

    We could have gotten a live action hybrid with a CGI Snoopy and Woodstock.

  • Jow

    Whether or not the Movie’s in CGI or not remains a mystery.

    But if it’s in CGI, I hope it’s not….in 3D!

  • David Nethery

    Yikes , the new site design looks cluttered , clunky , just sort of ugly.

    Please restore the previous version of the site.

  • wever

    Thinking more about it, I-HOLYJEBUSTHENEWFORMATISJUMPINGOUTATMEEEEE!!!!!!!

    ….uh…..the-th-thinking more about it, I’d like to see Blue Sky experiment and use CG to evolve a 2D look!

  • Gene andervoort

    Animation magazine called it a 3D CG movie.
    CG will never duplicate the charm and simplicity of the original hand drawn comics and animations.
    This so called new generation of fans should be able to see it as it was originally appeared and intended. Hand drawn.

  • http://oye-studios.daportfolio.com Seni Oyewole

    I’m sorry, but there are some cartoons/comic strips that look better in 2D than CG . . . and Peanuts is one of them.

  • Jow

    Y’know, I just came up with one more good reason for this movie being made.

    Remember when Jerry said that the new Popeye Vol. 4 DVD would be made as a tie-in to that Sony Pictures Animation movie coming out?

    Mabye the Peanuts “Decade Collection” DVDs can come back (1960′s, 1970′s, etc.) too!

  • ColumbiaCartoons

    Jerry, I had one more thing to say about a 3D Peanuts movie, if that thing is ever released in theatres it wil destroyed the comic strip I grew up with from my childhood, Sparky Schulz is rolling in his grave.

    • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

      He’ll have to get used to rolling…

  • Pedro Nakama

    If they make it CG they’ll probably also throw in a hip-hop soundtrack instead of jazz.

  • http://los-utopicos.blogspot.com allari

    It’s going to be very hard if not impossible to fill the shoes of Charles Schultz and Bill Melendez. That is all i can say.

  • http://www.daryl-rhystaylor.co.uk DarylT

    Could be worse, could be live action kids and a realistic cgi Snoopy.

  • http://cxapeloj.blogspot.com/ Simmon

    CG? Say goodbye to the charming 6-drawing walk cycle.

  • http://blog.mrcreativeshop.com MR Creative

    For those interested, there is a petition to make sure that this is done as a hand-drawn film.

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/twentieth-century-fox-stop-blue-sky-studios-from-developing-the-peanuts-movie

    • Jow

      Signed!

  • http://ryuuseipro.blogspot.com/ John Paul Cassidy

    I am very happy to hear that there will be a new PEANUTS movie! I’ve heard reports about it as far back as 1990, when Universal would produce a live-action film, but it definitely fell through.

    With the fact that Blue Sky is making it being taken into consideration, it’s WAAAAAAY too early to tell whether it will be produced in hand-drawn or CGI, so I have some reservations over it. But great work can be done in CGI, if the producers care enough to try it. (It could even look as appealing as the ViewMaster models cited by others!) And there’s plenty of time before 2015 to turn up a quality product. Whatever the case, I really hope it will be a great film, especially as long as the Schulz estate has strict power over the project. (Craig Schulz and his son Bryan wrote it, after all. So hopefully, no ribaldry and no needless realism. And refrain from the Disney story formula that all animated films today seem to have!)

    • Jow

      A LIVE ACTION Peanuts Movie? Suddenly I’m thankfull for the CGI format.

      • http://ryuuseipro.blogspot.com/ John Paul Cassidy

        I wouldn’t mind a live-action film (if done right), except that the rumored film was going to be directed by John Hughes. :P

  • Jow

    The idea of Blue Sky making a Peanuts Movie still sounds better than Nickelodeon’s Mighty Mouse Movie coming out in 2013. (YES, this is real.)

  • Bob Stayoffthegrass

    Could someone please tell me why it would be the end of the world if we got a 3D Peanuts movie? I’d love it if they did this. People are just so scared of trying new things, good gourd. I’ve been loving Peanuts my whole life, and I think a 3D Peanuts would be awesome. It worked pretty well in Snoopy Flying Ace, which happens to be one of the best games in existence.

  • Kurt Wilcken

    Anybody remember View-Master? When I was little, I had a Charlie Brown View Master disc and they made it by building physical models of each scene and photographing it for the 3-D effect. As I rememer it looked creepy as heck. This new movie won’t be the end of the world, but I suspect it will look much the same.