What do you get when you cross a British reality TV show host, the studio that made Happy Feet, and an 84-year-old cartoon sex symbol? You may not have to wait much longer to find out.
Simon Cowell, the grumpy man who judges amateur performers on American Idol and The X Factor, has announced that his company, Syco Entertainment, will produce a live-action/CGI-hybrid Betty Boop film with Animal Logic, the Australian studio responsible for the Happy Feet series, Walking with Dinosaurs, and The LEGO Movie.
This isn’t the first time that an entertainment company has attempted to resurrect the character in a feature-length project. Unsuccessful attempts have been made in the past to produce both a Betty Boop theatrical feature and Broadway play.
The project is being touted as a “music-driven comedy,” but don’t hold your breath for Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong. Cowell has previously stated that whenever his company produces films, “the music has to be current;” the first film that Syco made was the documentary One Direction: This Is Us.
Betty Boop, created by animation legend Grim Natwick, made her debut in the 1930 Fleischer Studios short Dizzy Dishes, and appeared in dozens of shorts throughout the 1930s. As American tastes changed, the jazzy, surrealistic vibe of the theatrical series was tempered until the character turned culturally irrelevant. But the story doesn’t end there, because the character has slowly transitioned from an animated personality into a merchandising mascot. Today, Betty has 200 licensees in the United States and nearly 400 licensees internationally, with her image used indiscriminately to sell everything from lottery tickets and rubber ducks to paper towels and chicken wings.
No director or writer has been attached to the the new project. Creative Artists Agency (CAA), representing Syco Entertainment and Animal Logic, brokered the deal with King Features Syndicate representing Fleischer Studios (which is operated by attorney Mark Fleischer, the grandson of Fleischer Studios’ co-founder Max Fleischer).