Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
Last time Warner Bros. tried to reinvent the classic Looney Tunes stable of characters, the result was a disaster. The Loonatics Unleashed featured absurd ‘extreme’ versions of the characters that were booed off television within two years.
Now WB is trying again with a new cartoon series and a set of 3D shorts that will play in theaters. Why would you even think about having confidence in this new approach? Because the studio is going back to the basics, and the New York Times says that art from The Loonatics Unleashed is “framed and hanging in Warner’s animation offices as a reminder of what not to do.”
In October of last year, Brendon talked about how the underperformance of Looney Tunes Back in Action basically killed feature animation at the WB. Brendon’s suggestion to revive the characters was simple: “Of course, a fool could tell you that a good run of new Looney Tunes shorts were exactly what was needed [to re-establish the characters.]”
Something like that is very much what is happening.
Three new Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote shorts have been approved and three more are in development. The 3D shorts will debut in front of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore at the end of July. (Great. So now we have to go see that.)
Then the new The Looney Tunes Show, a 26-episode half-hour series, will appear on Cartoon Network this fall. There Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck will be “odd-couple roommates in a contemporary cul-de-sac” with neighbors Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Marvin the Martian and Porky Pig. OK, much less sold on that. But I was just watching old episodes of Freakazoid! yesterday, so I’m inclined to be kind towards WB.
(This is the second incarnation of this show. The first, called Looney Tunes Laff Riot, was shut down late last year. This new series is the result of WB’s second try.)
What will the characters look like? More or less like the ’40s and ’50s versions of each. That’s the ‘new’ Wile E. Coyote above, for example, with a glimpse of the Road Runner reflected in the knife. The rendering will be CGI, and for the talking characters, there will be some differences.
Sam Register, exec vice president of creative affairs at Warner Bros Animation, says:
The minute you start drawing Bugs Bunny exactly as he was drawn in 1949, you expect the same animation and the voice to be exactly the same…That’s obviously not possible, so you pull the best stuff from the characters and do something slightly new with it.
Here’s the new Bugs and Daffy: