For several years, Warner Brothers has been sitting on the sideline, watching Disney and Pixar, Dreamworks and PDI plus Fox and Blue Sky create hit 2D and 3D animated films, while their product falls to the wayside. It must be tough for the WB to find itself on the bench, unable to find that elusive concept which will bring the studio back up to the top ranks of the animation field. After all, this is the home of Bugs and Daffy, of Pepe Le Pew and that damn singing frog. Their cartoon have been playing on television every day for the past fifty years. But for some reason, those boys in Burbank haven’t been able to get their most famous commodity into a worthy movie vehicle.
Sure, Space Jam grossed over $90M back in 1996, but now it’s seen as the embarrassment it should have been recognized as way back when, a trashy mash of basketball, animation and then-current pop cultural references which weren’t that funny then and are painful to sit through today. But in this world where a film like Attack of the Clones that will gross $300M is considered a bomb yet a film like Memneto that grosses 1/12th that amount is considered a huge success, Warners was encouraged enough by Space Jam‘s returns to push for a second Looney Tunes live-action/animation film. After seven years and numerous bumps in the road, we know that Looney Tunes: Back In Action will begin shooting in Los Angeles on August 1 under the direction of Joe Dante.
Most accounts so far have stated the film is about the son of a missing explorer (to be played by Brendan Fraser) teaming up with the LT gang in search of the legendary Blue Diamond. However, in casting notices that went out this morning to agencies, the story is described slightly differently…
Warner Brothers exec Kate Hanson, former studio security guard Bobby Delmont and super spy/actor Robert Delmont share a harrowing adventure with various cartoon characters and corporate villains, all after a priceless diamond, in a chase that spans from Las Vegas to the 3rd dimension…
The two parts the producers are currently looking to fill are both described as star parts for name actors only:
Mr. Chairman: The greedy, power-crazed head of Acme Corporation, a major manufacturing firm that uses Tunes and child labor to test its various products. After intercepting a message from Robert Delmont to Bobby, the nefarious Mr. Chairman enlists his henchmen to locate the Blue Monkey Diamond which he intends to use to achieve world domination.
Mother: This autonomous-sounding, “voluptuous siren,” who speaks in a Sgt. Joe Friday clip, is the overseer of the high tech lab known as Area 52. Mom, as she is known around the office, screens our heroes carefully before giving them the tour, and low down on her top secret operation.
I would guesstimate from the descriptions above that the missing explorer from previous story breakdowns is now the super spy and actor Robert, and his son Bobby is the Brendan Fraser character. Where any studio executive fits into a story is beyond me, as the best movies which have mixed live action and animation were the one in which the cartoon characters just happened to be a part of everyday life.
Why is Warners unwilling or unable to allow their precious creatures to be a part of the world without trying to overexplain why they existr It’s really easy. There’s the real world and there’s the toon world. They can cross into our world and we can cross into there. Just make it like a trip to France, as close to an alien world as we have on Earth, and people will accept it.
Looney Tunes: Back In Action will be released in theatres whenever Warners can find a hole in their already overcrowded summer 2003 schedule.
Director: Joe Dante
Producers: Bernie Goldmann, Chris deFaria
Casting Directors: Mary Gail Artz, Barbara Cohen