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Feature Film

Mighty Mouse on again at Paramount

This isn’t really new news; we’ve posted about this in 2004 and 2006. But once again, the LA Times is reporting that Mighty Mouse is back in development as a feature film at Paramount.

The Times article has no new details other than the fact the film is being fast-tracked and they are seeking a new writer and director.

I initiated development of a Mighty Mouse movie when I worked for Nickelodeon Movies as an animation VP in 1995. I’ve been trying to get Viacom to do something… anything… with its Terrytoon properties for years. I’ve had development deals for Tom Terrific at Nick Jr. and Heckle & Jeckle at MTV. My pilot, Hornswiggle, was one result of these efforts (the cartoon was pitched and developed as a revival of Sick Sick Sidney). The Bakshi Mighty Mouse DVD last January was another by-product of my years of lobbying for these characters.

The grosses for feature cartoon hybrids (particularly pre-sold revivals like Alvin, Scooby Doo, etc.), and perhaps some visibility from the Bakshi-Mighty dvd, may have finally awakened Paramount to this classic studio “asset”. I hope it works this time. I hope they make a good movie. My only goal now is to use this opportunity to unearth the library of classic cartoons – and get them back out for the public to see.

  • My only hope is that they don’t pull an “Underdog” wherein the revival resembles the original property in name only.

  • Danny R. Santos

    My only question is, will it be done in 2D or CG?

  • Bob Harper

    Jerry – I applaud your efforts in regards to Terrytoons. I’m sure they’ll give it the Alvin and Scooby treatments, but hopefully it will open up their library. Are they completely turned off by pitches for revamping some of their more obscure propoerties into new media or is there someone who is receptive over there to those kind of pitches. I have a few in mind as some were my favorite cartoons as a kid.

  • w

    I don’t care what kind of movie is made as long as we get that library re-published in a proper restoration!

    (…of course it WOULD be nice if the new movie looked like those old ViewMaster sets from ages ago…and if they wanted to ‘age it up’ they took a cue from the Bakshi series for content and used some modern pacing…)

  • Reguardless of if the movies are good or not you have to admit that this is a good thing. Like Jerry said it opens the door for the classics to possibly see the light of day. I say bring on the movies if it brings us DVD/Blu-Rays of the originals.

  • I’m hopeful that this will help for a Terrytoons DVD release, and the same goes for the Yogi Bear, Speedy Gonzalez, Marvin the Martian and Popeye films and their respective stalled DVDs…
    Unfortunately, the unbelievable success of the Alvin films did zilch for the original Alvin show and even the enjoyable 80s series has only gotten single-disc themed releases.

  • David Breneman

    All of the Viewmaster sets were made by artists at Viewmaster in Portland. The studios had approval of the work, but they did not create it.

  • William

    “My only goal now is to use this opportunity to unearth the library of classic cartoons – and get them back out for the public to see.”

    That’s always my one hope in these kinds of situations…

  • I hope they don’t ruin this film, I really really want this particular cartoon character to do well. PARAMOUNT! PLEASE DON’T CRUSH MY YOUTH.

  • Gene Deitch

    Naturally, I’m rooting for a revival of TOM TERRIFIC

  • Bill Field

    Is there anywhere we can see any of the work that was done in bringing back Tom Terrific? I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see ANYTHING concerning one of TV’s best and creative series.

  • Why not a Fleischer/Famous/Puppetoons property Paramount could revive?

    I could totally imagine:

    A Little Lulu/Audrey movie

    A “Jasper” movie where the un-PC kid gets a PC movie, but the Scarecrow still has his Kingfish like behavior. In fact Blackbird could be a talking live bird.

  • Christopher Cook

    Tom Terrific would be a good (and refreshing) fit on the current CBS line-up.

  • I sure hope Paramount doesn’t decide to screw this up and make this feature film a childhood crushing disaster.

    Oh well, either way, this could lead to a shot of finally getting a lot of the Terrytoons library to DVD. Terrytoons were just as important as every other studio during the Golden Age (even if some of their work was pale in comparison).

  • John A

    Tom Terrific would be a great property to revive, provided they get writers as talented as Jules Ffiefer to write the scripts, otherwise I don’t see it turning out any different than most of the other loud abbrasive and painfully unfunny cartoons on the air now. Tom Terrific may not have been a non stop laugh riot, but it was very cleverly written.

    Also: yes to Mighty Mouse, but please NO LIVE ACTION CG HYBRID/ ABOMINATIONS! I don’t care if it’s hand drawn or CG ( I lie, I want it to be hand drawn and I want to work on it) but I want it to stay true to its cartoon origins.

    I had a set of those Mighty Mouse Viewmasters from the ’60s. Instead of the sculpted models used in the Disney/ WB/ H and B/Peanuts reels, they traced over old cartoon frames and they used the “Ray Zone” method (shifting the right-left images on different levels) for creating the 3-D effect.

  • I have always liked the idea of a Mighty Mouse movie, if it was handled by the right crew. I just hope to god its not like the {Cough} Alvin{Cough} Scooby{Cough}Underdog. Personally, the only people I can think of who can do justice to a mighty mouse movie. Is Ralph Bakshi and John K. I would like to see this either as a 2D animated film or a CGI animated film. But whoever is doing this, Please do justice to it and not do it for the money.

  • Nah. If this is happening, it’s clearly because ‘Mighty Mouse’ has that kind of name-drop power that makes it a viable choice for the Garfield/Alvin/Marmaduke/Popeye run that nobody will let stop.
    The best thing we could do is to bury all these properties deep beneath the earth, and only dig them up again when Hollywood promises not to be silly.

  • jordan reichek

    WHOA?!!? Sheesh, people! GENE DEITCH is the saying something on this thread!!

    I hope next time Jones or Clampett hops in on a CB discussion about a classic Warner’s character revival, we take notice or at least blood-let a goat!

    Hiya, Gene!!!!!!

    Jerry, I’m sure you know my feelings on this matter…done with proper intentions, this would be a balls-out, fun no-brainer to make. :)

    Sometimes, a revived corpse is only as good as the intention of the reviver. Here’s hope’n……

  • I can’t see the suits allowing it to be 2D. I just hope it looks like this:

    not this:

    It be pretty cool if they could pull off Jim Tyer’s style in CGI stereo scopic. beat down cat goons flyin’ at ya.

  • Dave

    Any chance of a DVD release/restoration of all of the old Super Mouse/Mighty Mouse cartoons done the way they were orinally intended? I believe “Mouse of Tomorrow” was originally in black and white, was it not?

  • top cat james

    I remember back in the Eighties, there was talk of a proposed live action/ animation Mighty Mouse feature, with Richard Pryor to star.

    Target has a nice MM t-shirt on sale in their circular this week. It even has his original blue Super Mouse outfit! Got mine today.


    And I want to add my thanks to Jerry for his tireless efforts to get these and other classic cartoons released. My DVD player awaits with anticipation.

  • david

    yeah Jerry! I don’t care if they make a crappy Mighty Mouse CG movie if that’s what it takes to get some TerryToons released on dvd!!

  • top cat james

    Oops, my link was supposed to take you directly to the shirt. Sorry.

  • Rooniman

    I’m glad they’re looking into Terrytoons, but I’m alittle put off by the supposed “Mighty Mouse” movie thier (possible) making. Whether it’s going to be in 2D or CG, we’ll have to wait. (I really hope it’s the former.)

  • James E. Parten

    Although there have been some examples, CGI does not have to be–er, um–end-product. So, if Paramount decides to do “Mighty Mouse” in that format, figuring it’ll be more salable than 2-D, then so be it.
    This film’s rise or fall will be with the story and plotting, not on how slickly–or how badly–the animation is done. Remember both of the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” pictures: plot let them down. On the other hand, this year’s “How To Train Your Dragon” took a serviceable story, and did some good things with it.
    Whoever does the treatment for a “Mighty Mouse” feature will have his work cut out for him. IF he just watches the Bakshi episodes, that may take him in one direction, for good or bad. If he favors the original Terrytoons (as I would!), he’s got to figure out a series that had no “bible”, with a hero whose poers areal over the map from cartoon to cartoon, and the question of “to sing or not to sing”.
    A good plot, some honest laughs, maybe a deathtrap or two–that would sell this observer!

  • Robert Barker

    It would be interesting to have someone knowledgeable curate the Terrytoons library. I don’t really miss the Terrytoons I saw as a kid. But I’m sure, just like the Woody Woodpecker release, is that there could be some gems in there that haven’t been seen since their original issue. I was depressed at how uninspired I was seeing the Woody cartoons again, but it was the bonus Lantz cartoons that were thrilling. Terrytoons is fairly maligned, but it seemed like their best might hold up well comparatively against what passes for good animation today.

  • Mike Kazaleh

    Top Cat James: Almost as soon as we started production on Mighty Mouse: the New Adventures, Ralph started to come up with more ideas. One of them was to feature Mighty Mouse in a live action movie with James Brown as his co-star! As I recall, Ralph was unable to convince Brown’s agent to let him pitch the idea, but was subsequently able to strike a deal with Richard Pryor’s agent.

    Gene Deitch: I’m rooting for a revival of Tom Terrific as well!

  • Doug Drown

    I’ve been a MM fan since I was six years old (I’m now fifty-eight), and have been waiting for years to see this project come to fruition.
    I agree that it doesn’t matter whether the animation is 2D or CG, what matters is that the new writer and director understand and replicate the spirit of the original cartoons. This is why the Bakshi/Kricfalusi were so successful — the team understood the concept. Combine Bill Tytla’s dark plots, Connie Rasinski and Art Bartsch’s beautiful drawing, a bit of the hokey take-off on opera (with a wink and tongue firmly placed in cheek), and a touch of Jim Tyer’s wild imagination and fluid animation, and you’ll have a MM movie that will be memorable.

    Neil Beck’s Mighty Mouse webpage contains some photos of the proposed CG models for a MM film planned back around 2000. My response: Yuck. Especially with regard to Oil Can Harry. He looks like a cross between the Cheshire Cat and the Grinch. Keep him as he was — a manic, obsessive-compulsive, heinously-evil-but-eternally-frustrated takeoff on ’20s movie villains — a cartoon cat with a deep bass voice. It’s what made him funny.

    I’m looking forward to this, and dearly hope it can be done right.

    — And yes, a Tom Terrific revival is a great idea!!

  • Andy

    The originals (from what I remember) were mostly parodies of Nelson Eddie/Jeanette McDonald and 19th century melodramas. Kinda old school even in the 40’s. A Bakshi style re-do would sit much better.

  • Doug Drown

    Andy said: >>The originals (from what I remember) were mostly parodies of Nelson Eddie/Jeanette McDonald and 19th century melodramas. Kinda old school even in the 40’s. A Bakshi style re-do would sit much better.<<

    Hmm. If you’re thinking in terms of an updating, what kinds of things would you suggest that would keep the basic premise intact along with the characterizations? Just curious.

    One of the things that Bakshi and Kricfalusi did with the ’80s CBS series that pleased me was that they gave MM an alter-ego similar to Clark Kent. What has yet to be resolved is the question of where MM came from, which Terry and his crew addressed indirectly in only one cartoon (where MM was mysteriously delivered to an elderly couple via stork). It would be nice to have that definitively dealt with.

  • akira

    dear paramount,
    please don’t make another alvin and chipmunks piece of crap. we know those movies made a crapload of money but they also sucked and parents wont keep putting out for that crap forever.

    formula for success with integrity:
    Director: John K
    Writers : the incredible team of story artists that John K brings together to prove that 2d cartooning is still alive and well

    keep the budget low by not including too many celebrity voices or producers on the payroll who will interfere with the fun that this movie should be. look at astroboy if you want to understand how this kind of movie can get f’d up.

  • John A

    They way I see it, the more cartoony they make it, the more VIOLENT they can make it. I like the earlier idea of 3-D cats flying at the audience during a big fight scene. Hell, let’s forgo the movie altogether and make it a Universal Studios ride.

  • Doug Drown

    There were some Terrytoons MM episodes that were INCREDIBLY violent, especially given that that theatrical cartoons were supposedly mostly oriented toward kids. I remember especially “The Jekyll and Hyde Cat,” Tytla’s most famous Terry cartoon, in which the monster cat dies in a fiery explosion, and a later episode in which MM is clubbed unconscious, bound and gagged, thrown into a safe (from which he later escapes), and is later knocked unconscious a second time in a hail of mortar fire. Neither of these would pass muster in Saturday morning network TV nowadays, that’s for sure.

  • My comment is: when you got the cartoon remastered for Terrytoons, that came from 20th Century Fox’s Paul Terry Cartoon Studios. I’m looking for Cinemascoped Gaston LeCrayon and other Terrytoon favorites. Do you have them? Because in 1931, Paul Terry’s Fox Film years was more than these cartoon about a farmer and a dog. Before that I chose also Gandy Goose and Mighty Mouse in the 40s.

  • Wow. I would kill or be killed to have even a crack at pitching for this movie.

    -Ed Power
    Writer of ‘My Cage’, the best comic strip you’ve never heard of according to it’s writer. :)

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I dunno about a Mighty Mouse movie. After Disney’s ‘Underdog’,I’m a little nervous about the final product.

  • James E. Parten

    The concept that Andy is remembering–with Pearl Pureheart and Oil Can Harry–was actually lifted from an earlier series of black-and-white Terrytons featuring a heroine named Fanny Zilch, a hero named Strongheart, and a villain actually called Oil Can Harry in some of the shorts. (“Oil Can” was a piece of 1920’s slang, which occurs in Lorenz’ Hart’s second-chorus lyric of “The Girl Friend” (1926)–“To think that this goil can/adore such an oil can. . .”) These middle 1930’s shorts were already takeoffs on ye-olde-tyme-mellerdrammer, complete with buzzsaw (and animation that would show up later in MM!)
    It is curious that these are some of the most well-remembered MM shorts, even more than such well-done items as “Krakatoa” or “The Johnstown Flood”, or some of the morality plays such as “Hot Rods”.
    As I said, the MM shorts had no “bible”–primarily because the folks at Terry didn’t realize that it was going to be a series, or that it was going to last as long as it did. Despite the experience with Farmer Al Falfa, Terry was not really oriented towards series of cartoons–at least, not in the early years of “Mighty Mouse”. They would figure it out eventually–as displayed in “Heckle and Jeckle”, “Dinky Duck” and “Terry Bears” series.

  • Doug Drown

    I have a question about Paul Terry. When he retired in 1955 and sold his studio to CBS, where did Twentieth Century-Fox come into the picture? Fox held the copyright to all the Terrytoons cartoons, at least from the mid-’30s onward. How did Terry manage to sell the whole backlog to CBS?

  • Doug Drown – 20th Century Fox had a long term deal with Terry for theatrical cartoon shorts, but Terrytoons was an independent studio. Fox only had the rights to distribute Terrytoons in theatres. Paul Terry retained all other rights (TV, home movies, merchandising, etc.) and owned the studio itself. CBS (now Viacom) bought those rights. P.S. Fox’s theatrical rights to the shorts has long since expired.

  • Ben Fenty

    what’s the status of the film now?