Ever since it was announced back in 2012, fans of the Peanuts franchise were justifiably concerned about how Blue Sky Studios’ upcoming adaptation was going to update the property for an new audience. Now, three years have passed and we’ve received a couple of teaser trailers, a few image stills, a small set of posters, and an official voice cast that should pretty much tell you how Peanuts is being updated. If you’re still one of those fans who has lingering concerns about the movie then maybe the word of the producer will reassure you.
Collider recently interviewed producer Paul Feig at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) convention. Between premiering his upcoming action-comedy Spy and talking about directing the all-female Ghostbusters film, he found some room to talk about The Peanuts Movie.
When asked the typical question of how Peanuts will be ‘modernized’ for a new audience, he quickly replied that it just simply won’t, instead opting to replicate the timeless feel of the comic strips and TV specials:
It’s very sweet. It’s totally a G-rated movie, because you can’t get edgy with Charlie Brown. That was the Schulz family’s fear, that me and Fox everybody were gonna come in and hip it up and cast Justin Bieber as Charlie Brown and have it like Space Jam or something. All of us were like, ‘No.’. We cast kids that sound exactly like the kids you remember from the specials. It’s very pure of heart.
He also admitted that coming on board as the film’s producer was a daunting task, yet he ‘s ultimately pleased with the results so far:
I’m really happy with it. It’s a scary thing to take on, but also Charles Schulz’s son and grandson and the grandson’s writing partner are the writers on it. So we’ve been guiding it along for quite a while, it’s been almost two years now. Steve Martino from Blue Sky is directing it, and he and that team are so religious about wanting to keep it the way—everything we loved about it.
He also revealed that it wasn’t just fans who were taken aback by the announcement of a CG-animated Peanuts film. Apparently the news of the film’s development also made a few shockwaves throughout the animation industry, even to the point of attracting the attention of a particularly well-known figure:
What happened was when it first got announced as ‘3D CGI’, everybody went nuts—including Brad Bird. And you’re just like, ‘Everybody just wait!’ It’s the thing in showbiz that movies mean so much to people, and their favorite properties mean so much that people get very passionate—I do, you do. But when you’re on the other side of it, when you’re the one trying to steer it, all these preconceptions come out and you’re just like, ‘Oh you don’t know what we’re doing, just wait.’
He then concludes by praising the animators at Blue Sky for the film’s unique visual style:
When I first came onboard they were already in the beginnings of developing it and Steve and the Blue Sky team showed me the preliminary artwork and some of the animation, and I literally got so choked up because the minute it came out I was like, ‘They cracked it. It’s so true to what it is.’ And weirdly the CGI makes it almost work a little better in a weird way because they made it feel like the cartoons, but it just has enough of a—realism’s not the right word, it just kind of comes off the screen in a way where you feel like they’re real. It’s very bizarre, I’m so excited about it.
So in case you had any second doubts, this film will indeed stay true to the spirit of the property, and not just visually. Director Steve Martino once noted that his favorite element of Peanuts was Charlie Brown’s willingness to bounce back from life’s obstacles, which is definitely one of the central themes running through the franchise:
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.
Now that we have been told the filmmakers’ intentions for the film, it’s up to the fans (and general audiences) to decide if Blue Sky has done its job in bringing Peanuts to the big screen.
Directed by Steve Martino, with a screenplay by Craig Schultz, Brian Schultz, and Cornelius Uliano, the film features a voice cast that includes Noah Schnapp (Charlie Brown), Hadley Belle Miller (Lucy van Pelt), AJ Teece (Pig-Pen), Noah Johnston (Schroeder), Venus Schultheis (Peppermint Patty), Alexander Garfin (Linus van Pelt), Francesca Capaldi (Little Red-Haired Girl), Mar Mar (Franklin), Mariel Sheets (Sally Brown), and Rebecca Bloom (Marcie). Rounding out the cast is William Alexander Wunsch (Shermy), Anastasia Bredikhina (Patty), and Madisyn Shipman as Violet. Archival recordings of Bill Melendez are being used for the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock.
Here’s the film’s official synopsis:
Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved “Peanuts” gang make their big-screen debut, like they’ve never been seen before, in state of the art 3D animation. Snoopy, the world’s most lovable beagle – and flying ace – embarks upon his greatest mission as he takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis The Red Baron, while his best pal, Charlie Brown, begins his own epic quest. From the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of the ICE AGE films, THE PEANUTS MOVIE will prove that every underdog has his day.
The Peanuts Movie arrives in theaters on November 6, 2015.
What do you think? Do you still have any concerns about The Peanuts Movie?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden