Feature Film

Universal is Making A Live-Action/CG Woody Woodpecker Feature—For Brazilians

Universal is making a live-action/CG Woody Woodpecker, but it’s not what you might think.

The film is designed for Brazilian audiences, and will debut theatrically in Brazil in October 2017, which is why the film’s lead actress, Brazilian Thaila Ayala, is a virtual unknown in the United States. She plays the girlfriend of Lance Walters (a cheeky nod to the creator of Woody Woodpecker, Walter Lantz), the baddie who wants to kick Woody out of his forest home.

There’s a few clues that suggest the film is unlikely to receive an American theatrical release. Firstly, Universal 1440 Entertainment, which is the production arm of Universal’s home entertainment division, is handling the production and secondly, the director is Alex Zamm, whose last theatrical feature in the U.S. was the 1998 Carrot Top film Chairman of the Board. Zamm’s other credits include such direct-to-video treats as Inspector Gadget 2, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, and Jingle All the Way 2. (The film is being shot in English so expect some kind of home entertainment release in the U.S.)

Zamm wrote the script with William Robertson, with rewrites by Paul A. Kaplan and Mark Torgove. The film started shooting last month in Squamish, British Columbia, and will continue shooting through the end of this month, according to a report at YVRShoots.com

The image of Woody at the top of this article has been making the rounds as an official publicity image, though I haven’t been able to confirm that.

Universal’s approach to Woody is similar to how Warner Bros. licensed Top Cat for a Mexican feature that played strongly across Latin America including Brazil, but never received much exposure in the States. It’s a sensible approach considering that many classic American cartoon characters (with the exception of Disney’s) are better recognized abroad where their cartoons are aired regularly on television.

A few years ago, Secret Life of Pets maker Illumination Entertainment was trying to jumpstart a Woody Woodpecker feature. Silicon Valley co-creators John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky were attached as writers to that version. No word on where that ended up, but it sounded far more intriguing than this low-rent revival.

In recent weeks, Thaila Ayala and actor Timothy Omundson (who plays Lance Walters) have made social media posts that allude to their on-location work for the film.

Day 2 WOODY WOODPECKER ?? #movie #newJob #picaPau #univeral #cinema

A photo posted by Thaila Ayala (@thailaayala) on

Alguém roubou minha cadeira hoje! ????? #movie #cinema #workinprogress #universal #picapau #woodwoodpecker

A photo posted by Thaila Ayala (@thailaayala) on

Day Shoots. Night Shoots. #InTheWoods. #LocationLife

A photo posted by Timothy Omundson (@omundson) on

(Thanks, Matt Norcross)

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