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Feature Film

New “Looney Tunes” Movie from Chipmunk Actress

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed a new Looney Tunes movie is in development at Warner Bros., and it will be written by Jenny Slate, a one-season Saturday Night Live performer who most recently appeared on screen in Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked (see clip embed below). Slate has voiced characaters on Bob’s Burgers and was Ted’s mom in The Lorax. She also co-wrote and voiced the viral stop-motion short Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.

Like Alvin, the Looney Tunes feature is being planned as a mix of live-action and CGI. Harry Potter producer David Heyman, as well as Jeffery’s son David Katzenberg (MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger) and his creative partner Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows, Beetlejuice 2) are set to produce.

Image at top from recent CG Looney Tunes shorts – which you can now see online.
(Thanks, Liam Scanlan)

  • Can we have a film written by an actual chipmunk, instead of a pretend one?

  • Toonio

    Alviiiin… don’t screw the looney tunes.

  • Baron Lego

    Space Jam Part 2?

  • If the character designs and animation are as faithful to the originals as the new, theatrical shorts that Warner Bros. Animation has been producing… then this MIGHT be worthwhile. But I still can’t see why we need yet another Looney Tunes movie which is a mix between animation and live-action. The creative reasons for making this better be good…

  • Does CG really mean CG, as in like Toy Story? or are they USING cg to create the illusion of 2D? I hope its the latter. I thought Back in Action looked just fine.

  • Gray64

    Uh…well, the guy who wrote “Batman and Robin” also wrote “Beautiful Mind,” so there’s a chance? Maybe?

  • Drew

    You guys can bash it all you want but “Space Jam” is one of the greatest films ever made. Along with Good Burger

  • M.V

    Weren’t there already a few failed attempts to do this? Pepe Lepew?,Bugs Bunny?,Marvin the Martian? I had a feeling this wont come to friotion and the world will be a slightly better place for it.

    I think theres a fundamental problem with adapting those characters to features anyway. They were created for short form comedies. Strong.. but fairly simple personalities. Can you really give Bugs Bunny a convincing arc? Daffy maybe. Bu those are really the only two strong enough to support a real story IMO. Most of the other characters are pretty two dimensional.

    Most of those cartoon adaptations end up introducing some new character who ends up carrying all the weight story wise. Sometimes successfully (The Muppets) sometimes not (The Smurfs)

    • GW

      I don’t know. I did some digging on Looney Tunes to see how they evolved and discovered the character Beans. I could see a rejected Beans, Porky’s former costar having a lot to add to the plot. He’s such an anachronism compared to the later characters but has enough of an individual personality, unlike Buddy, to be interesting. Imagine him holding a grudge against the later Looney Tunes characters and you’d have quite an interesting premise for a movie in my opinion.

    • Ryoku75

      Thats pretty much the core reason why modern movie adaptations of classic characters don’t work, the star characters were simply never meant for 90 minute films.

      The writers usually know this so they make a new character (Bob or Smith) who carries the whole film while the real characters just watch.

      The only kind of film that old characters could really work in would be something akin to Spaceballs, a completley silly comedy with complete jokes for “arcs” and drama.

  • Joel

    This being Cartoon Brew, others will further elaborate, but in short, I’m really not looking forward to this.

  • Mike

    I think Back In Action came SO close to the perfect vehicle
    for the characters. Steve Martin and Jenna Elfman screwed
    up any chances for that to happen. I love Steve Martin,but
    I wonder who told him to use that horrible characterization?
    Jenna Elfman’s character was too angry. She had sex appeal,
    but did not have any chemistry with the toons. I felt
    Back In Action was better than Space Jam, so maybe this
    latest venture will raise the bar. God I hope so!

    • TJR

      I felt the reverse…While Space Jam was no Roger Rabbit, I thought it was an enjoyable enough movie that stayed faithful to the characters and i wouldn’t mind seeing it again….But “Back in Action” was a real disappointment. It felt like they where trying to hard. Aside from that scene in the Louvre, I will never want to see it again.

      • I’m undecided about which one had the better jokes. It’s true that “Back In Action” felt a little like it was trying too hard in comparison to “Space Jam”. On the other hand “Space Jam” felt as if it tried too little at times. Anyway, “Back In Action” did a couple of things right. Actually “BIA” was pretty good in terms of ‘character arcs’ applied to Looney Tunes. Bugs and Daffy didn’t change their attitude or personalities during the whole thing, but Daffy did struggle with fame and fortune during the story, and at the end he learnt nothing and his luck didn’t change, but he had his five minutes of glory when he saved Bugs disguised as Duck Dodgers.

        Also Bugs didn’t change his mind either but in the desert scene he abandoned his smugness for a little while and showed that he actually cared a bit about Daffy (I don’t remember the whole dialogue but it included something like “Daffy, you’re accident prone”). I thought that was a nice moment between the characters which could have been included in a Chuck Jones’ short. It didn’t get too sappy, or emotional, or schmaltzy in the Disney fashion, but it showed the friendship between the characters. Bugs was actually trying to give some advice to Daffy. He didn’t seem to learn much from it, but that’s ok, that’s how Daffy is.

        Had the movie been entirely animated without human actors and included slightly better jokes this could have been a pretty good Looney Tunes movie. As it is it was merely acceptable. More ‘entertaining’ than ‘good’. “Space Jam” was even more awful in the life action parts, but overall it was also ‘entertaining’, rather than good.

        • Max

          All I can say about Space Jam is that it had Porky Pig making a urination joke.

          • I think even Chuck Jones complained about that, but I never got what was so awful about that particular joke. I disliked Taz farting in Back In Action, cause is such an easy joke, and I didn’t like Bugs burping in the same movie (thought at least it was a very mild, low burp) cause he’s usually more elegant. But Porky pissing his pants because he’s scared didn’t seem so out of character/bad taste to me. In the context of a guy being extremely scared is a naive, child-like behaviour that doesn’t feel so off for Porky.

            There is a thin line but the occasional gross gag in Looney Tunes is ok to me, the originals also were a little riskier than Disney. That’s why I also don’t mind Elmer’s ‘sex’ scene with the sandwich in “The Looney Tunes Show”.

            There was a urination joke in Tick Tock Tuckered. Though yeah, it was much smarter than the Space Jam one, I’d give that.

      • It’s always interesting to see these Space Jam/Back in Action debates.

        To me, Space Jam had the wrong idea but right execution (the scene where Bugs and Daffy explore Jordan’s house is extremely well done in the little details, but man – a movie about them playing basketball to save their world from aliens? The idea must have been written on the back of a Bugs-wearing-backward-pants shirt).

        Back in Action, on the other hand, had the right idea but the wrong execution (I’m not sure why they had the actors ham it up to 11 and as as goofy as their animated counter parts – there’s a reason the human actors in Sesame Street react like regular people – and, structurally, the film is poorly put together. But there are some great visual moments, especially towards the climactic scenes).

        • Chris Sobieniak

          That’s been my problem with both, it’s not an equal balance!

        • Mark McD

          Nope, Space Jam was an extended version of the Nike commercial with Michael Jordan playing Bugs one-on-one.

    • Inkan1969

      I always assumed that the Steve Martin character was a parody of Thomas Schumacher. Martin kind of looked like Schumacher in that movie.

  • Richard

    I thought that we as a race determined that the Looney Tunes were antiques with nothing to offer the modern audiences. At least that’s been my experience with them. Anachronistic curiosities and not much more. Sure, they’re extremely well done, but they’re just not funny anymore. Watch them with a kid sometime, and don’t bullsh*t us about the reaction. I think these discussions are so often full of people who are lying about their own kids’ love of these fossils that I don’t expect we’ll ever have a genuine read on their lack of appeal.

    Not trolling. This is what I know to be true.

    • James

      C’mon, ANOTHER Live-action hybrid of Looney Tunes? And now we’re going to have to suffer through some Yogi-bear like CGI atrocity.

      And I agree with Gerstein. Why is nobody attempting a full feature with these characters? They’re fleshed out enough to at least allow some sort of sympathy and interest. They’ve been making several direct to video Tom and Jerry features built around the premise of a cat chasing a mouse.

      I mean, they’ve made successful films out of Dr. Suess books and the upcoming Peabody & Sherman and Popeye films look promising. I guess Warner Bros made some decent money on the Scooby-Doo, which made sense as CGI/Live action because everyone except the title character area all human to begin with. Maybe we’ll be seeing the birth of live-action, non animated Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and Granny? *shrug*

      My guess as to why they persist with the hybrids is so that they can get “big-name” actors on the cast list and they haven’t been able to get these celebrities to voice Bugs, Daffy, etc as well as the relatively unknowns such as Billy West, etc let alone Mel Blanc.

      • Funkybat

        Having a live-action/hybrid Scooby movie actually made more sense than a lot of these other adaptations. Even though I dislike them, at least the Scooby and Chipmunks movies make some sense because even in the cartoons, most of the characters were human beings, and the humans were not especially “cartoony.” Aside from Shaggy, there was not a lot of slapstick, people getting crushed under pianos, etc.

        Contrast this with Yogi Bear, the Smurfs, Underdog, etc. Those were worlds where not only the main characters, but the humans they interacted with, were very “toony.” Ranger Smith and Dave from the Chipmunks were handled very differently as cartoon characters, even if they both essentially played the same role relative to Yogi/Alvin.

        In short, unless the cartoon being adapted featured one or a couple of “cartoony” characters living with mostly normal humans, these 3D-live action adaptations don’t work. Who Framed Roger Rabbit made a bunch of people dream of doing “the next one” but no project since then has come close to living up to it, 2D or 3D. I would prefer to see the Looney Tunes limited to 2D, and even then, stick to shorts. I know not all of those new LT shorts in the 90s and 2000s measured up to the classics, but they were still funny in their own right, and I’m sure they can be improved upon in future shorts. That’s the domain of those characters, not a 22 minute sitcom, not a 90-minute live-action film.

    • billburgnyc

      Couldn’t disagree more. My own kids (ages 3 and 7) love Looney Tunes, as do their cousins (5 and 8). This summer we all watched the Rabbit of Seville. Believe me, everyone in the living room, young and old, was laughing.

      As far as relevance for today’s audiences, I find it strange that 15-20 years ago, these shorts were still wildly popular, running every day of the week and often several time a day. Yet, at that time, they were 50-60 years old. It seems to me if they were able to work that long outside their historical context, they can pretty much be considered timeless. I don’t think audiences changed more in the last 15 years than they did in the previous 50.

      • Richard

        So you don’t think that maybe something else happened in the last fifteen or so years to distract kids from the seventy five year old highjinks of a cartoon rabbit? Come on up topside, Slick -the bombs, they never fell!

        • The Looney Tunes are classic. If the children don’t watch them, it’s worse for them, and probably adults will.

          Chaplin and Keaton would still be good and relevant in the history of cinema even if only 100 people in the world were watching their movies.

        • Chris Sobieniak

          I blame the internet, period!

        • Funkybat

          Many of the references in Looney Tunes were pretty dated even when I saw them as a tyke in the early 80s. I knew that WWII was “long ago” so the rather jingoistic anti-Nazi, anti-Japanese stuff seemed odd. I also only recognized maybe half of the “stars” who had cameos, but it didn’t matter. The overall silliness, smart-alecky quips, and fast-moving slapstick action made it hilarious.

          I doubt anything that has changed about the world in the last 15-20 years has done anything to diminish how today’s kids and tweens would view Looney Tunes. The only difference I might foresee is that they’d be less likely to laugh and more likely to cry “hate crime” if they saw shorts like “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips.”

          • Chris Sobieniak

            Don’t start it, please! It was fun when I was doing that stuff in a high school WWII class, but it just got out of hand now.

      • KreD

        You’re right about the Looney Tunes being timeless, the only reason that these shorts were off tv for a good while anyway (until 2011) was really due to an extreme lack of corporate synergy between Cartoon Network’s parents, Turner and Warner Bros. Meaning that because the Looney Tunes are property of Warner Bros. and as such, the Turner half of the Turner/Time-Warner partnership has to pay the Warner half fees in order to run anything WB owned. And since The Looney Tunes Show premiered last year, they thought it was a good time to reair the shorts again, and it hasn’t left CN’s lineup since, so that should say something. Otherwise, if Turner did own the whole Looney Tunes library from the get go, they wouldn’t have stopped airing in the first place (like Tom and Jerry).

    • No disrespect for your opinion, but my experience has been completely different. I’ve programmed a few cartoon nights for kids at my church. Whenever I show them classic Looney Tunes, the kids (regardless of age group) are literally screaming with laughter. One night, a disc of Road Runner cartoons had them laughing so hard and loud I felt obligated to cover my ears.

  • I had a teacher once who mentioned that the main problem with these Looney Tunes features (Space Jam, Back in Action) is that it turned Bugs into a sidekick. Bugs is not a sidekick, he’s never had to work for anyone in the past but himself. I’ve never seen any modern indication showing the truth of Bugs character, as opposed to the watered down Mickey Mouse spokesman he’s become for WB (Hell, even that’s wrong, Bugs would never sell himself out to be a corporate poster boy!). Bugs and the Looney Tunes are truly a product of another time, and it’s sad seeing such great characters wasting away. For the sake of preserving their legacy, I wish sometimes that the WB would stop with this Loonatics/ Space Jam/ Looney Tunes Show nonsense and move on to something else already.

    • IMHO, “the main problem with these Looney Tunes features” is that they turned the Looney Tunes characters into the 1990s interpretation of the Muppets. They exist as mentors/sidekicks for a live-action “star” in a movie that, at best, is largely centered on that star’s character arc; and, at worst, betrays executives’ belief that the Muppets/Looney Tunes could not hold a mature audience’s attention without a real-life celebrity on hand.

  • Tedzey

    This has “trendy” and “gimmicky” written all over it…

  • I’d rather wish they would make a fully animated LT movie with no liveaction parts ala Quackbusters.

  • I’m actually more interested in this “Beetlejuice 2” you mention.

  • bones

    It’s NOT going to be good.

    It’d be great if WB put some cash into making new Looney Tunes shorts, with NEW CHARACTERS & put them online. After all, Bugs, Daffy & the entire crew were created at some point, right?

  • anonymous

    You can’t make good Looney Tunes today in this politically correct society. It won’t work.

  • Mel

    If it’s a billion dollar grossing megahit, it will mean a cash cow franchise which is the long shot reason behind WB rolling the dice. If it’s yet another LT feature disaster, the newly-anointed cartoon feature writer will at least get a healthy chunk of change to buy a McMansion with the best crown moldings right next door to Larry Doyle.

  • Bob

    Space Jam is, simply put, one of the worst films ever made. I think Back in Action is very, very good for what it’s trying to do — be a feature length, slapstick cartoon. In fits and spurts (especially the Hanger 51 scene), it really comes to life.

  • Kyle

    I wish they would do a series of CGI shorts, maybe something like fantasia but with voices in the style of the other shorts we’ve been getting recently. They feel fresh but still as organic and the older hand drawn stuff. I just don’t want to see them mix it up with live action.

    I like Jenny slate though, hopefully she proves me wrong.

  • Mark Sonntag

    Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll ever see the Looney Tunes gang revert to their more irreverent ways. Personally, I think if someone had the courage to go back to where the Looney Tunes began, I mean what inspired the artists at the time and watch things like the Marx Brothers movies, see how they went against the grain of their times to create a full blown comedy feature and then apply that approach to our times they could do something very funny and relevant without the need for combination live action animation.

    Maybe it’s me, and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Space Jam, but these films date because they use people popular at the time.

  • Ranzak

    I have just one request:

    Don’t ever make Bugs pink again.

  • Kyle B

    The newspost is focused on Jenny Slate’s animaton related career, but i must say that I adored her in her episodes of Bored to Death.

    As for the LT Film, I dont really have much of an opinion about it. A year or two ago I would have balked at the idea of a CGI-LT feature, but the ReelFX shorts have proven that such a notion /can/ work so maybe it will turn out alright?

  • Steven M.

    Heres my question, WHY does it NEED to be in CGI?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Why can’t they give up, Jerry?

  • Andy

    I’d rather see 10 amazing new Looney Tunes theatrical shorts, than another attempt at a movie. I think the CGI roadrunner cartoons were great.

  • I always say the same thing but Duck Dodgers was actually pretty good.

  • Manny

    Why can’t the hire DevantArt srtists like Jose Ramiro, Spootay or Da Wabbit? SNL will kill Looney Tunes. They’re not subtle and smart enough to handle ’em.

    • R. Araya

      Probably any “Golden Age” SNL writer would have appropiately handled any LT revival without trying too hard to emulate CBS’ Monday night comedies or FOX’s “Animation Domination”. Just my two cents.

      I do sometimes watch SNL; but mostly out of respect for Michaels and Thompson, altho I think that the show (as well as the entire satire genre, and most modern comedy in general) has become a FOX News-craving inquisitive machine (NOTE:F.Y.I., my knowledge about F-N-N is quite basic).

  • CTM

    What they should be doing is finding truly great contemporary cartoonist and filmmakers who really understand these characters and the shorts they starred in, and let them put serious effort into making a product of genuine quality. FInd people who really want to go back to the balls out insanity of the 30s and 40s. Seems they always just want to get a bunch of randoms and whatever awful celebrity they think is cool at the moment. I don’t doubt for a second that there are people out there who could make truly great new Looney Tunes cartoons, unfortunately they’re just never the ones WB gets.

    • Yep. Stephen DeStefano, Bob Camp, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Tom Minton, Tom Ruegger, to name a few, and even Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone or Jessica Borutski, if they had freedom. Maybe even John K., though I’m not so sure.

      Also, unpopular opinon here, and I’m playing devil’s advocate, but I think The Looney Tunes Show is sort of inoffensive.

      Don’t get me wrong I totally agree with Inkan1969. The show completely proofs that the old LT spirit is not permissible in modern days. I even find myself bored during some episodes of The Looney Tunes Show, something that would never happen during the old shorts.

      But compared to atrocities like Loonatics or Baby Looney Tunes (Mickey Mouse version for preschoolers can get a pass, but Looney Tunes never should be directed to that target) it’s a product of a decent quality. Totally flawed, and dull at times, but the animation is not horrible and there is a basic dignity to it. Sometimes the characters act completely wrong and out of character but you sort of recognize them in it. And some pieces like the Merrie Melodies are sometimes well done.

      Also, it doesn’t look thaaat much as a money-making machine as the movies. The animated parts in Space Jam are watchable (the life actions ones are awful) but the whole thing has the feeling of a huge commercial.

      Even if I find here a little irritating and not all that funny, the new take on Lola has grown on me a little. I didn’t even hate the character in Space Jam (but I dislike how she appeared later in merchandising as if she were a classic character). Anyway, she was extremely dull. Now she’s not as funny as The Looney Tunes Show writers may think she is, but at least she has a personality that kinda fits better in Looney Tunes. Another good think is that Speedy is there and he keeps some of his original traits.

      And the show, while similarly dull and maybe less faithful to the classics, is a little more creative than , say, Sylvester and Tweety Misteries.

      So it’s kinda there. I don’t love it. I don’t feel the urge to rewatch the episodes. I won’t cry if it’s cancelled tomorrow. But I don’t feel the Looney Tunes character are being raped when I see it as I feel with some other WB series or products. What always comes to mind is “wasted potential”. Jessica Borutski’s designs are kinda interesting. The Merrie Melodies too. Some of the episodes premises could work if handled in a different way. But the development lacks effort.

  • wever

    Here’s an idea.

    Why not… just saying… make the movie completely animated!?!?

  • Someone REALLY needs to show these idiots this lengthy message I wrote to show that you cant go back to the golden age by rebooting the cartoons everyone knows about. its worth a read, but ignore the stupidity from most of the deviantart users who fail to see the message in this.

    I am sick to death of seeing these live-action hybrids of cartoons. I thought after Underdog they would be long gone, but no. Alvin and the chipmunks had to do it to make Hollywood believe that people want to look at photo realistic characters over cartoon styled animated characters. I was completely disgusted by seeing trailers of Alvin 2 and Smurfs all over the place. Whats worst, the idiotic parents who know better took their kids to see this crap over seeing Princess and the frog and Winnie the pooh. Which killed off Disney doing more 2D features. Not to mention Disney’s marketing failed yet again since they putted their 2D films up against these god-forsaken hybrids that are about to get people to commit suicide.

    I haven’t seen Space jam in years, but as a kid I knew something wasn’t right with it. the animation was alright to say the least. And Billy west did do a decent job on Bug’s voice(but he mostly aced on Elmer’s voice). I didn’t even like Lola bunny, I have a feeling that she was just created just so the female protest groups would shut up to Warner Bros about adding in “positive female” personalities in cartoons. It’s a bit ironic on how mostly furries like Lola bunny, but that’s a different topic. Back In Action was a major case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. I am curious to know what was even in the original script of the film before WB decided to switch heads on who gave the approval of the movie.

    Live-action/CG animated isn’t the way the Looney Tunes are supposed to be animated. They belong in hand-drawn animation. They don’t need to be bastardized for the stupid children of today’s audiences who don’t have a freaking clue who these characters are. Unless if your going to put the Loonies in CG like the CG short films “I tawt I taw a puddy tat” and “Daffy’s rhapsody”, then just ignore doing this for the sake of everyone’s sanity. Nobody needs to see the great cartoon characters of Looney tunes being dumb downed for today’s audience. I would hate to see this happen. if your going to do a new Looney tunes movie, make it fully animated over doing something that is making animation fans all around very pissed off to see some of the greatest cartoon characters from the golden age of animation being adapted in something nobody wants to look at. I swear…if Bugs or anyone makes a rap joke or a fart joke I’m going to hunt down everyone who worked on this movie and drop acme anvils on them.

  • Glowworm

    While I’m vaguely curious and never thought Looney Tunes Back in Action was abysmal, (Although now as an adult, I know how bad Space Jam really was.) I’m really hoping this idea doesn’t go very far–much like that one about Marvin being stuck in a Christmas present while wanting to destroy the Earth or the live action Speedy Gonzales with George Lopez voicing the title character.

    Also, while I have nothing against CG–I don’t like it when it’s used for live action cartoon movies such as Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear–the designs are pretty dreadful looking. In this case, I’d prefer another live action Looney Tunes movie in the vein of Back in Action where 2-D animation was used. I fear that the CG will make the characters look like they belong in a cheap video game.

  • stan

    why can’t these characters just stay dead.

  • Ryoku75

    Why would Warner Brothers hire an actress to write a film?

    While they’re at it they may aswell hire a janitor to do the camera work, the scriptwriter do the animation, a voice actor do the directing, and a chef do the casting.

  • Josh

    Do they not remember Rocky and Bullwinkle, Garfield, Scooby Doo, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Yogi Bear?

    You know what the term is for doing the same thing over and expecting a different result? Insanity!

    • R. Araya

      You can count “Marmaduke” in. Though the comic is quite dated, it’s not hard to see that NO ONE liked the so-called “updating” of the movie (blame UPI for that).