Given the shoddy treatment Jim Henson’s Muppets characters got through much of the ’90s and the ’00s, last year’s refresher of their property, The Muppets, was welcomed as a huge breath of fresh air. Finally somebody with true affection for these beloved characters gave them a big screen vehicle that skillfully treated them with the respect they deserve.
Things are arguably looking worse for Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes franchise than they ever did for the Muppets though. The last time these characters hit the big screen was in 2003’s already-forgotten Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and the last time they felt remotely relevant was when they appeared in Space Jam in 1996. Here is a stable of characters that was beloved for decades, whose earliest animated works are still held up in knowledgeable circles as being enduring pieces of modern art, and we can’t even get them a decent Space Jam sequel? What gives?
Hopefully all this is about to change, because the brothers Warner are putting together a new feature for Bugs, Daffy, and crew, and it sounds like they’re taking the The Muppets approach that resulted in that property enjoying newfound relevance. What are the similarities here? Well, according to THR [via Slashfilm], the studio is looking outside the insular animated world and giving the job of putting this film together to people who are known for doing other things, but still have a deep, abiding affection for animated weirdness.
Said folk are producers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith, the guys who we’ve recently been hearing about because of their putting together a Beetlejuice sequel, and writer Jenny Slate, who’s best known for being a cast member on Saturday Night Live.
In addition to being one half of a new production team focused on genre weirdness, Grahame-Smith is also the guy responsible for writing “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and Slate cut her teeth in the business by co-writing and voicing a stop-motion short called Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (which you can watch below). Like Jason Segel on The Muppets before her, Slate represents a fresh perspective for this property, as she’s had huge success in the comedy world that has nothing to do with animation, but she also brings a familiarity for the medium with her, which is readily apparent due to all of the voice work on her resumé.
Could this be the perfect team to take the reigns of the Looney Tunes world and turn them back into money making machines? Or should we set ourselves up to accept another decade where Taz and company’s most prominent exposure will come from their display on Salvation Army Store t-shirts? Only time will tell, but there certainly seems to be reason to remain optimistic.