Next November, “The Peanuts” movie will open in theaters to kick off the holiday season. Don’t expect Charlie Brown & Company to be following any current trends or expressing themselves in any modern day dance moves. The filmmakers will focus on the timeless quality of 50 years plus of comic strips and television specials. No doubt fans will be pleased.
Producer Paul Feig commented that if he had to give the movie a classic title, he’d probably call it “Don’t Give Up, Charlie Brown!” The film follows everyman Charlie Brown on an adventure to retrieve something he believes he needs, even though he discovers he’s alright as he is.
Director Steve Martino is a devoted fan of the characters having grown up on the classic television specials. As an adult, he says he finds himself connecting to Charlie Brown’s attitude of never giving up.
“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.”
Charlie Brown’s best friend Snoopy has a deep connection to his master and reacts to what’s going on in his owner’s life. The beagle is known for donning a scarf, helmet and goggles while mounting his doghouse, which he imagines to be a British Sopwith Camel bi-plane flying over Paris to engage his archenemy the Red Baron in a dogfight in the later days of WWI.
“We really get to go into his mind and see what this crazy dog is imagining every day of his life,” says producer and writer Craig Schulz, one of the Peanuts creator’s sons.
The director was treated by Schulz to go up in a real biplane to experience the loop-de-loops, stalls and barrel rolls in order to “give the audience a little bit of that feeling when we’re taking flight with Snoopy,” the director added.
Martino wants to ensure that two guiding principles are present in the 3D CG-animated feature film. Charlie Brown’s world is immersive while also staying true to the look and feel of the comic strips.
A major challenge to the film’s computer animators was creating emotions out of the simple dots for eyes that (Charles) Schulz gave his characters. The animators were able to rise to the occasion by using the art of subtlety. Martino continued.
“A little tilt of that eye shape can give you worry. A little stretch and raise of that little dot can give you surprise.”
Watching Peanuts come together has brought on a flood of childhood memories for the team. Martino loved seeing his Snoopy perform the famous dog’s iconic happy dance (“I used to wait for that moment to come on screen,”) while Feig reveals that he choked up while watching the first reel of storyboards set to the classic Vince Guaraldi music that was a hallmark of the television specials.
“You love being back in that world,” Feig says. “And you immediately want to grab every kid you know and go, ‘Oh, my God, you’ve got to watch this!'”
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, a source close to Blue Sky Studios revealed that “Peanuts” sequels are in the planning stages.
“Peanuts” will open in theaters on November 6, 2015. The film will utilize the voice talent of the late Bill Melendez. Bryan Schulz, Craig Schulz and Cornelius Uliano wrote the screenplay based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz. Steve Martino directs.