Popeye Popeye
CGIClassicFeature Film

Genndy Tartakovsky To Direct 3D CG “Popeye”

Apparently, Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Sym-bionic Titan) impressed Sony Pictures Animation with his directing on Hotel Transylvania. Variety reported on Monday afternoon that Sony has enlisted him again to direct a 3D CG Popeye feature. Avi and Ari Arad will produce under their Arad Productions banner with Sony. Brew readers remind us in the comments that Popeye was adapted into CG once before for Mainframe Entertainment’s Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy. Anything Tartakovsky does is guaranteed to be an improvement over that cartoon.

(Photo of Popeye and Olive Oyl at the Mermaid parade on Coney Island via Lev Radin/Shutterstock)

  • That’s pretty good news. I hope they’ll eventually allow him to direct something of his own creation.

  • matt

    I have faith in Genndy, but why does Sony keep trying to revive old and boring characters?

    • Ross

      Popeye? boring? WOW!… kids these days…

    • Jack


      Have you never watched the great Fleischer cartoons or read the comics? Popeye is a great character and seeing him revived to the public in a (hopefully) faithful manner would be awesome.

      I do wish Sony would let him do his own movie, though.

    • Ryoku

      While I disagree with the “boring” bit, I too wish that movie companies would stop dragging classic characters through the mud.

    • Boring? How old are you? Go listen to Justin Bieber and watch your Jersey Shore. Popeye? Boring? No wonder I hate young people.

      • Um…

        Why are you involved with animation if you hate young people?

      • axolotl

        Huh? That’s like saying ‘Why are you involved with oil painting if you hate old people?’
        You can love animation no matter who you hate.^^
        Re Popeye, a Popeye movie could be pretty cool if he spouts gibberish and fights monsters like he’s supposed to, not if he’s saddled up with a dumb backstory and a character arc and boring shit like that…

    • Gee whiz. Popeye is like god and stuff. You are trolling!

      • Um..Says, what does working in animation have to do with young people?
        This isn’t exclusively a kids medium, you jackoff.

  • Let Genndy do a Samurai Jack movie. Then we’ll talk.

  • Tartakovsky is without fail a terrific director and I’m liking what I’m seeing of ‘Hotel Transylvania’ so its an interesting decision. Its crazy though because when i think of Popeye animated, i can only imagine the very fluid Fleischer cartoons, very different from most of the work Ive seen from Tartakovsky. I’m wondering if the feature is going to draw from the Fleischer’s work or go in a COMPLETELY different direction. Curious to see…..

    • jerome

      Though I’m not an expert, I think there’s a lot in E.C Segar’s strips that wasn’t used in Fleischer’s cartoons… It may be a good idea to go back to the source.

      • The Gee

        Actually, the TV special linked to above is based on a slight mash-up of storylines from the Segar strip. It is not exactly verbatim and they somehow ended it with a Christmas theme.

        While there are really long and great storylines in the original strip, the Fleischer studio did do long form Popeye cartoons and they added a lot to the original that make it work for animation (probably obviously) and most people are probably more familiar with some animated Popeye rather than the strips.

        There’s a lot of people working in animation who would treat it right. A lot.
        We’ll see what happens.

        For what it is worth, I didn’t mind Mainframe’s animation. It got made. And, it did have respect but visually, as anyone can see, it looked dated right out of the gate. I’m sure budget and schedule didn’t help that aspect.

    • Ermy

      They could hire that guy who just redesigned the Seven Dwarfs for Disney!

      • Scarabim

        Sure. Let him ruin ANOTHER classic!

  • tjr

    Loved Samurai Jack, Loved his take on Star Wars. It will be interesting to see what he does with Popeye…..Who knows it might revive interest in the original cartoons and the original comic strip.

  • Isn’t there already a CG Popeye feature before?

    • Jack

      Yeah, it was called Quest for Pappy or something.

  • Paul M

    Genndy’s talents are wasted on something like Popeye, much as it pains me to say it. Give him something he can run with, something with action. Lots of action!

    • And Popeye is calm and collected?

      This isn’t even starting on the comics.

      • Paul M

        I’m a hardcore fan of Samurai Jack, the non-CGI Clone Wars and Sym-Bionic Titan, and was a fan of Popeye long before that when I was a kid. Much as I loved the old Max Fleischer shorts, I can’t really see Popeye as a ‘serious’ action hero, the way Genndy has amply and superbly demonstrated to be his forte.

        At this point, with Mako resting in peace, I’d much rather see Genndy do a Sym-Bionic Titan movie, or better yet, something new and original and better suited to his talents as the Tsui Hark or Yuen Woo Ping of action animation.

      • Jack

        Dexter had plenty of well-done comedic action in it, and Genndy co-directed many PowerPuff Girls episodes. What do you mean he couldn’t handle it?

        And Popeye being “wasted” on Genndy, read some of the comics and see what a rich, diverse cast a great director has been given.

      • Paul M

        Yeesh. So if I don’t want to see Genndy do Popeye, that makes me a “Popeye Hater” huh? Right.

        Where in my comments did I say Genndy couldn’t handle it? He is one of the best animators alive, he can handle whatever is thrown at him.

        Try this thought experiment. Imagine some of the best action/fighting scenes from SJ, 2D Clone Wars or SBT. Now cut-and-paste Popeye in place of Jack, Ben or Lance. Does it work?

        Obviously GT is not dumb enough to try to give Popeye a modern, edgy action hero feel – I hope. That’s not my point. My point is that’s what he does better than anybody, and he has said himself that is what he wants to do the most. The smart thing for Sony to do would be to give him a blank check and let him do whatever he wants with it.

      • Jack

        I never called you a “Popeye hater.” I’m saying your assumption that comedic action isn’t Genndy’s forte is ignorant.

        Again, he was a PPG co-director. That show had some of the best cartoon violence on television. Dexter had a few action scenes that were very directed, and very FUNNY (the 2nd season finale, for instance, with the giant robots, or the Monkey shorts). SBT had it’s far-share of campy action scenes. He’s obviously capable of directing more than one style of action and won’t direct Popeye inappropriately.

        So trust in his abilities! If enough support goes to this movie maybe he can convince Sony with his own ideas.

    • Completely agree…there is so many amazing stories to be told, and so much imagination to explore…and he agrees to do a remake of an old cartoon. Boring.

      • wever

        A cartoon that is exciting, actiony, adventurous, and funny! I honestly don’t see why everyone, on Cartoon Brew especially, would hate Pop-eye!

      • Funkybat

        I think some people view Popeye as too predictable and formulaic, probably due in part of reduced exposure to the wide variety of Popeye stories that exist in both comics and film.

        If you look at the “mainstream” image of Popeye, it’s almost as one-note as Tom & Jerry; Popeye and Olive are either courting or are a happy couple, Bluto comes along and threatens to take Olive, beauts up Popeye, then Popeye gets some spinach and puts Bluto in his place. That’s *all* some people know of Popeye, I would say most people. Wimpy, the Jeep, Pappy, the Sea Hag, and all the other kinds of stories besides “Popeye beats Bluto to win the Goyle” are not on their radar.

        Given that even something as formulaic as “Tom & Jerry” can still be very entertaining, “Popeye” presents even more opportunity, if Genndy and company are allowed to explore it.

  • Tedzey

    Outside of Popeye being a silly short about a guy with giant forearms, the cartoons themselves are action packed. Not alot of animators know how to mix good action with a sense of humor like Genndy, and makes me happy that he’s getting more work! Though it makes me wonder if Genndy is going to change the design to fit his straight geometric design. Even the fleishers have managed to keep the look on par with the comic.

    Let’s see if they’ll get Robin Williams to do the voice… (just kidding!)

  • Mapache

    I’m on kids these day’s side. Popey ir really a weak concept. Maybe Tartakovsky can turn it into something more than a one dimensional character, but that’ll take quite some effort.

    • Annabel Cole

      This is what happens when nostalgia junkies spend decades defending/promoting the worst of Popeye, only because “it’s what I grew up with.”
      Uninitiated newbies watch them and come away actually thinking nothing interesting can be done with the character, and believing most others agree.

    • James

      Even Fleischer Popeye was anything but one-dimensional. There was quite a bit of character nuances in Popeye and it wasn’t always just him beating up a fat guy (though it was certainly a draw). The series had a ton of its own unique brand of quirky humor.

      The Segar comics are a whole other animal. Excellent adventure story along with a good comic appeal and fleshed out characters. The very opposite of a “weak concept.”

      The Popeye franchise has tons of potential. A feature film adaptation could be great given the right ingredients and talent involved.

    • So, a one eyed, scrawny, balding, toothless sailor with tumors for arms who tries to be noble in spite of being a muttering, beligerant sailor, who’s idea of a good looking woman is Zazu Pitts mixed with a pipe cleaner, who eats terrible tasting spinach to get power boosts, and can do feats such as blowing out the sun like a candle and pull entire landmasses without breaking a sweat (and without spinach, at that) and is willing to beat up a greedy hot dog vendor owner who won’t give a broke kid a hot dog on credit, and most of all is willing to give anyone, including his own foes, the benefit of the doubt, and is willing to risk life and limb to find his own long lost senile 99 year old father is “one-dimensional” to you? Yeesh :P

  • Crystal

    *groans* I was disappointed with Hotel Transylvania (based on what I’ve seen) because after I felt like Genndy was bringing something new to television animation, HT just looked like more of the same. And now this Popeye just seems like another “family” CGI comedy (probably with celebrity voices). I thought he LIKED 2D animation and actual voice actors (considering how much of his stuff he voice directed).

    I was hoping the Samurai Jack movie would be next . . . this kinda ruined my morning.

  • Actually, I’m a little interested in seeing how this will go. At least it’ll be directed by someone who already has plenty of respect, talent and inspiration from the classics themselves. Part of me also wonders if he’ll invite Rob Renzetti back for a collab here – given that Rob’s style is naturally inspired from the 1930’s rubber-hose years.

  • Tartakovsky doing Popeye? Suddenly I became interested in that animated feature…

    FYI: The Variety article also mentions that “Tartakovsky is currently attached to direct a feature version of Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack, which he also created.”

  • I love (most of) Popeye and I love (most of) Tartakovsky. Sure, I’m not sure if they both match, but he will still do a much better work than most nobodies asigned to the project.

    Actually I hope Tartakovsky likes Popeye too, cause there’s potential to do a really good movie if they use the best aspects from both Fleischers’ cartoons and Segar’s comics.

    Also I’ve been a huge fan of Dexter’s Laboratory but never followed Samurai Jack too much. I can’t say I loved the few parts I watched as much as everybody else. I mean, I admired how it was done and its visuals but never got into the stories too much.

    Yes, Tartakovsky should have his own projects but I’m not sure a Samurai Jack movie would be more of my tastes than a Popeye one…And if I’d rather see Popeye in 2D, I’m 90 % sure Samurai Jack wouldn’t be the same in CGI, so if they leave him direct it he should do it in traditional animation and everything.

    Anyway if they are determined to do a Popeye movie I’m really happy Tartakovsky is in charge. And I think Popeye offers more possibilities to a cartoonist than something like… Mission Impossible 4 (which I enjoyed anyway).

  • Ryoku

    Did anyone else get a window that requested their name and password when they went to this article?

    • The Gee

      I have seen that a couple of times.

      It is something messed up with the site’s code most likely.

    • Ryoku – That’s really weird. We don’t have any popup windows like that on the site. If you see it again, please take a screengrab, and contact our tech support so we can get to the bottom of this.

      • The Gee

        If I remember correctly it is a log on window for “Sitemeter” or something.

        Canceling it makes it go away and doesn’t kick me off of the page I chose, unlike some requests for a username/password.


        okay, I just scrolled to the bottom of the page and saw the button/badge.

        Look into the page/site code for your Sitemeter service, I guess.

  • Ryoku

    If they can’t re-capture the “moving landscape” shots that make the Fleischer shorts stand out then I will be disappointed.

    Look forward to a disclaimer that says “Punching big fat bullies is something that you should not try at home”.

    • Approximating the “moving landscape” shots will be obviated by the 3D CG nature of the production.

  • John A

    I’m not crazy about making the thimble theater characters CG. There are a lot of 3-D/2-D combo methods that would help retain the original hand drawn look of the characters.As much as I’d like to see a big budget Popeye adventure feature,I really think the Popeye characters could also work as a weekly sitcom.

    Instead of trying to replicate the 7 minute format of the Paramount and King Feature cartoons, they should just take all the characters and put them all in Sweethaven and place them in more character driven storylines, like a half hour sitcom. They could actually use characters that were barely used in the animated cartoons, like Wimpy and the Jeep. I know it would be a radical change in tone from what fans of the shorts are used to, but I think it would be closer in spirit to the original comic strip

    • The Gee


      After thinking about it for a little bit, the cartoon is best served with lines/ linework.

      The graphic look would probably help deliver the punches and the character animation much better than CG with shadows or textures and stuff. But, I’ve been wrong before and will be wrong again.

  • Big Popeye fan here, and while I am naturally nervous about any CGI adaption of the character, I’m glad it’s going into the hands of someone like Mr. Tartakovsky.

    For what it’s worth, my only suggestion to him would be to go to the comic strip for his source material and not so much to the cartoons. Cartoon viewers may think of
    Popeye’s nemesis as being Brutus (or Bluto), but comic strip readers would know that Popeye’s true adversary was the Sea Hag. The comic strip adventures were epic in their scope and often took over 6 months to fully tell, making them an ideal reference for a feature, IMO. Plus, they were filled with the kind of political and social commentary that gave a wryness to the comedy that the cartoons never touched.

  • The original Segar comic strips where rich in adventure and originality with lots of eccentric characters like Alice the Goon and Sea Hag. They also were dark and atmospheric at times too. A good and faithful adaption would make a wonderful movie.

    • Scarabim

      I was going to say the same thing! Yes, a movie based on the Segar strips could be amazing. AND much funnier than either the Fleischer or the awful Paramount versions.

  • Rufus

    Sounds good. I bet this will be the first good Popeye movie. Then let him do Samurai Jack, FFS

  • Pedro Nakama

    This could work. If they modernize it and make Popeye a Navy Seal and he’s on a mission to take down Al Qauda.

  • Genndy Tartakovsky directing a Popeye movie? This I have got to see. I’m glad Sony got a well qualified director to direct this new Popeye film and I’m also hoping Stephen DeStefano, the greatest Popeye artist in the world, will be able to work on the movie too. Glad these great cartoonists are still finding work.

  • Michel Van

    The moment Tarakovsky move to Sony, is his career hit rock bottom…
    a shame what they do to creative minds in Hollywood

  • The first thing that came to mind was, “THERE’S HOPE AFTER ALL!!!”

    I’d like to see how Genndy (who I’m sure is a big Popeye fan) handles this! That is, if Sony lets this film get made! (Development hell is another unfortunate curse that really held Genndy back for a long time; witness the stallings of THE POWER OF THE DARK CRYSTAL and the phantom SAMURAI JACK movie)!

  • Wow, 3D popeye is only slightly less horrifying than 3d Simpsons or 3d South Park.

  • Kristjan Birnir

    Why, Why, CGI again? I would prefer if the tried to make traditional handrawn POpeye feature.

    • Jon H

      Because name the last CG movie that made any money in the US. I’m not happy with it either, but that’s how it goes.

  • Funkybat

    While I’m glad to see Genndy Tartakovsky get another shot a directing a feature animation so soon, I have to say I wish it were something which gave him a chance to use his approach to visual style. A lot of why I love Genndy’s work is because of the great graphic style of his animation.

    Of course, the odds that anyone in Hollywood would greenlight a big-budget 2D animated film done in a very flat, graphic style that wouldn’t translate to 3D projection are pretty low right now.

  • mike fontanelli

    Genndy’s stellar track record speaks for itself. Hopefully Sony will adopt a hands-off approach, and not force him to update it too horribly. He might consider hiring Steven DeStephano for art direction and/or design. No one alive has a better handle on the classic Segar/Fleischer style.

    • Seconding my recommendation for having Stephen DeStefano on staff.

  • WorldTraveler

    This is a good move on Sony’s part.

    Popeye may not have high visibility with the kids here, but the adults, who have all seen Popeye cartoons, will take their kids to see the movie.

    Plus, it’s a huge and easily recognized brand globally. To the rest of the world, this would be almost on the same tier as Disney releasing a new Mickey and Donald movie. This is definitely going to be released theatrically in just about every country on the planet

    This movie is guaranteed to print money, plain and simple

  • Jon

    If there’s any chance that a 3D CG Popeye feature might motivate Warner to begin restoring the color Famous Studios cartoons for DVD release, I’m all for it! The Famous Popeyes of the mid-40s are quite good, overall, and deserve to be seen in their full multi-hued glory, rather than in faded old library prints that have seen better days.

  • Magical.

    Wow.. First Smurfs…. Now Popeye…. What other bullshit property will Sony put to 3D Animation next? The Troll Doll? Oh wait…. Dreamworks is already handling that one.

  • Samjoe

    Pardon me all you Popeye experts.
    Why is his nekerchief on backwards?

    • The Gee

      If you are referring to the photo above then you may as well ask, Where are the other 157 Popeyes?

      Koopagirl @6:50pm,
      The CGI Popeye movie is mentioned in the post, with a link to it.

  • dbenson

    There are so many ways this can go right or wrong.

    In the best of all possible worlds we’ll see Popeye strutting through a 3D landscape with all his Segar-given eccentricity intact and playing like gangbusters. But you can be utterly faithful and still fail. Jules Feiffer provided a very faithful and viable script for the live action version; and the visuals were usually on the mark. But Robert Altman’s style was simply a fatal mismatch for Segar’s outsized world.

    At the same time, you can sometimes wander away from your source material and still deliver a good movie. The live action Prince Valiant traded the mythic weight and epic feel of Hal Foster for American accents and Hollywood silliness. Still, it’s a very enjoyable swashbuckler on its own terms. Given that Popeye has receded in the general memory from a firmly defined character to a sort of logo, I’m thinking that’s the more probably outcome here.

  • Koopagirl

    Wasn’t there already a CGI Popeye movie released on DVD years ago?

  • chipper

    Please tell me this means a Popeye/Samurai Jack crossover.

  • Crystal

    Before he did Sym-Bionic Titan, Genndy wanted to do a Dark Crystal sequel (with most of the original cast–maybe that would have been to the Dark Crystal what The Muppets was to the original trilogy?!) or adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower–why is he now doing standard CGI family stuff like this and Hotel Transylvania?

    In Clone Wars, there’s a Jedi who looks like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. I’d much rather see references/throwbacks to older stuff like that. I thought his last 3 shows were so layered and mature, they felt like good anime but still an American look and take on it.

    I thought he was bringing something new to the medium, I don’t want more of the same.

    • And doing a sequel of an 80s movies instead of remaking a classic cartoon with lots of potential is “less of the same”…why, exactly?

      I’m sure Genndy would prefer to do his own projects too and we all want him to make them, but if he’s doing Hotel Transylvania and Popeye is probably cause he didn’t have the chance to do his own thing or it wasn’t approved yet. I wouldn’t blame Genndy for something that isn’t probably in his hands. Personally I’ll be happy if whatever project he does results in a good film, even if it isn’t revolutionary or totally different to everything else.

      Ideally he could dug his heels in and say Popeye is a classic and should not be tarnished or whatever, but if he actually tries a respectful approach it may be better than anyone else doing it, cause the studios are going to make it anyway.

      If I don’t like the Popeye movie when it’s in theaters I will criticisize his work, but I can’t blame him for taking a job. I mean, I think Looney Tunes are impossible to make as good as they once were but if someone gave me the chance to work with them I’d probably say yes, first because people need to work and being paid for it and second, because no matter how bad it became I couldn’t make it worse than Loonatics.

      • Funkybat

        The classic Looney Tunes characters should probably be “retired” from any new cartoons, unless it’s some kind of unusual mash-up like “Roger Rabbit.” Even then, though, “Space Jam” and “Back in Action” weren’t exactly classics.

        Even more so than the classic Disney characters, the Looney Tunes were a success because of the artists who worked on them and the era they were made in. Trying to out-do the Termite Terrace gang while using their characters is almost guaranteed to end in mediocrity or worse. I would *love* to see new cartoons in the spirit of Looney Tunes, but with new characters that fit today’s world. Animaniacs is probably the most successful version of that done, but something more contemporary and even more consistently funny could still be done today or in the future. That’s what I hope to see from Warners Animation.

      • I sort of agree but then again I quite liked the Duck Dodgers series. The episodes on those series weren’t classics as the shorts but I felt they had the same kind of jokes and they quite nailed the personality of the characters. At least it was pretty close to Chuck Jones’ take on the characters but with some new twists. If they weren’t classics it was mostly cause they were not as fantastic as the originals in the animation and design aspects, even though the visuals were pretty well done for what it was.

        In a simmilar vein I still think there could be the chance to do a much better movie than Space Jam or Back In Action. So, in general I’d agree with you, unless somebody was actually decided to do a really good job. I kinda think these characters deserve at least ONE really good movie in theaters, and then, that’s all. But yeah, in the modern world if they eventually got it right they would surely try to do trillions of sequels. Not to mention the fact that it’s either CGI or cartoons combined with life action, but never entirely 2D, at least in cinemas.

        But yeah, a movie with a simmilar spirit but using new characters could be as good or better. I think Ren and Stimpy in their best days were closer than Animaniacs even if they weren’t done by Warner. However the very concept of Pinky and The Brain was very clever, sometimes the episodes didn’t live up to the concept, but the concept and the character voices, designs and personalities felt classic Looney Tunes.

        Oh, and in my previous post I was just talking hypothetically just to prove a point. I draw comics and stuff and I’m a big fan but I know very little about animating and I live in Spain so there’s like 0 chances I could ever do something with the Looney Tunes.

  • Jim

    That spinch fore-armed toon titan is still the man and he rocks! No need for dumb CGI-3D movies based on classics so please stop it Hollywood.

  • Tredlow

    I was too young to get too interested in Popeye, but I know how much visual gags it involves, so Tartakvosky is definitely a good choice. Especially after seeing the visuals in Hotel Transylvania.

  • Brian Marshall

    My first reaction was to groan, but seeing all the positive comments about Gendy Tartakvosky made me think that this could be good, or at least interesting. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll stick with the forever monumental Fleischer Popeye cartoons.

  • FearsAbound

    OH BOY! I can’t wait to see them give Popeye one big super real glassy cgi eyeball! And of course they will remove the pipe, because they would NEVER want to promote smoking to the kiddies of today! Just eat your spinach boys and girls and oh yeah I’m sure Pappy will be such a NICE and LOVING father because thats just like the comics ;]

  • Joel

    This is a pipe dream and I don’t think Genndy’s movie will be bad, but I would give over everything in my wallet to see a straight adaptation of a Segar story.

  • Jake

    Hope they get Billy West in Hollywood to do his voice.

  • Thomas Guiry

    I hope its rated R