Ever since its announcement back in 2012, the upcoming CG adaptation of the beloved Peanuts franchise has been the subject of curiosity, interest and scorn almost all at once. The concerns surrounding whether or not Blue Sky Studios would keep the integrity of the comic strips and TV specials still abound, even after the first teaser trailer landed along with a stern declaration from director Steve Martino and producer Paul Feig that the movie will do justice to the source material.
Ever since then, news about the film has been relatively scant (a while ago, its budget was reported to be $100 million). Until now.
First, we have five new stills from the film that continue to showcase the unique approach taken to translating Charles Schulz’s iconic characters into the world of CG. Essentially, taking the character designs as they are, but using the CG to flesh out details such as cloth, fur, lighting, and shadows to heighten the textures and make the world of Peanuts pop out more on the screen.
When speaking to USA Today, Paul Feig once again addressed a point that he made when the company was interviewed last time about the film: there will be no attempts to modernize any element of the Peanuts universe in this film. In this particular case, that means that Charlie Brown won’t twerk, or wear a baseball cap backwards to try to look cool, or break the internet like Kim Kardashian.
“I don’t think his butt’s big enough,” Feig jokes.
This time around, Feig and company expanded on that point by saying that the film won’t necessarily lean towards the old-fashioned or the modern. Instead, the overall focus will be on the timeless quality displayed over the past 50+ years by the comic strips and the specials.
While Blue Sky seems to have settled on the standard title of The Peanuts Movie, Paul Feig told USA Today that had it been named in the classic tradition of the TV specials, it would have been called Don’t Give Up, Charlie Brown! There’s still no solid story synopsis for now, but USA Today tells us (without giving too much away) that the story “follows the little round-headed boy with the indomitable optimism on a quest to get something he’s sure he needs, even though he discovers he’s pretty OK just as he is.”
Steve Martino elaborated on this by explaining that while he grew up with the Peanuts specials, it wasn’t until he was an adult that he connected with Charlie Brown on a deeper level, specifically with Charlie’s willingness to bounce back from obstacles: “I wake up every day and it’s like, ‘Today’s the day we’re going to win that game! I’m going to kick that football!’ As you have more life experience, those things have more meaning.”
The tale of Charlie’s best friend Snoopy also reflects what goes on in his owner’s life, as the hyper-imaginative dog goes to fight a World War I-style dogfight against his sworn enemy Red Baron.
Craig Schulz, one of Charles’ sons and one of the primary screenwriters of the film, had this to say about Snoopy’s storyline: “We really get to go into his mind and see what this crazy dog is imagining every day of his life.”
There won’t be any new characters created for the film, but it will utilize the larger cast of characters created over the span of the comic strip. Basically, we’ll be seeing characters that were never really seen before in the specials like the Little Red Head Girl and Fifi, the love interests for Charlie and Snoopy respectively. We’ll even see Snoopy’s brother Olaf (not to be confused with Frozen‘s Olaf) and an entire group of beagle scouts.
And in case you were wondering, the filmmakers will be using archival recordings of the late Bill Melendez for the sounds of Snoopy and Woodstock. No major casting announcements as of yet.
Finally, here’s the new teaser trailer:
While I’ll leave it up to our readers to determine whether this trailer raises or lowers your hopes for the film, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. True to the word of the creators, this is the world that we know from the comics and specials, but seen in a brand new light. Notice how there’s little to none of the motion blur that is common with CG animation. Instead, they’ve resorted to using a sophisticated system of image layering and smears, custom-designed for each scene. As a result, each image reads clearly, giving the movie a style that is at once unique and reminiscent of how cel animation works.
It’s not until next fall that we will experience the film as a whole and decide for ourselves whether or not it lives up to the Peanuts brand, but judging by what we know now, I can safely say that I’m looking forward to it.
The Peanuts Movie arrives in theaters November 6, 2015
What do you think? Did this new material get you more excited for The Peanuts Movie?