Bugs Bunny set for movie comeback
Bugs Bunny, star of animated Looney Tunes "shorts" of the 1940s, is to make a 3D CGI cinematic comeback.
The Hollywood studio, Warner Brothers, is believed to be developing a film starring the inimitable rabbit, which will be a mixture of live action and CGI, designed to revive the character for a contemporary audience.
It will be written by David Berenbaum, who scripted the 2003 comedy, Elf, starring Will Ferrell.
While Bugs Bunny has made a couple of cinematic appearances since his post-war heyday – he was last seen in Looney Tunes: Back In Action, a 2003 film featuring a host of classic animated characters – he has not been the central star in a film for many decades.
Some might question the success of his 3D re-incarnation, and whether young audiences still have an appetite for the 70-year-old bunny rabbit. Bugs was among the most memorable characters to emerge in the golden age of American animation in the late 1930s and early 1940s, which continued until the 1980s when the Saturday morning cartoon slot began to lose its audience appeal.
His first "official" appearance was in the 1940 film A Wild Hare, when he emerged from his hole to ask his gun-toting arch enemy, Elmer Fudd, "What's up, Doc?" The line later became his catchphrase.
Chuck Jones, who directed the Looney Tunes cartoons for Warner Brothers, is believed to have said that Bugs Bunny's carrot-chomping, relaxed standing position was inspired by a scene from the film It Happened One Night, in which the actor Clark Gable leans against a fence eating carrots at a rapid rate and talking to his female co-star with his mouth full. This scene was well known at the time of Bugs Bunny's conception, and viewers may have recognised the cartoon character's behaviour as a spoof of the Gone With The Wind star.
The character's original voice was a blend of New York's Bronx and Brooklyn accents. Audiences instantly fell for his insouciant character, calm even in the face of Elmer's aggression, and he became the most prominent of the Looney Tunes characters.
By 1942, Bugs had become the No 1 star of the Merrie Melodies cartoon series, and Warner featured him in opposition to the period's biggest enemies including Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, during the war.
He starred in 163 shorts during the golden age, and even made some appearances in non-animated films. In 1997, Bugs appeared on an American postage stamp, the first cartoon to be honoured in this way. There is also a Bugs Bunny star on Hollywood's walk of fame.
Some in the industry have expressed concern that the re-branding of Bugs, like the more recent versions of The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks, might have become too family-friendly, and so risk losing touch with what made Bugs Bunny so iconic to begin with – his sassy, topical and often subversive short films.
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The bear who made his debut in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, is returning in an adaptation of The Yogi Bear Show, due in December. Dan Aykroyd will voice Yogi, while Justin Timberlake will voice his friend, Boo-Boo.
The newspaper comic strip created by Brad Anderson in 1954, revolving around the Winslow family and their Great Dane, Marmaduke, was this year turned into a film, with Owen Wilson giving the Great Dane his voice.
The comic strip and 1980s TV series was released as Garfield: The Movie in 2004. While some critics lauded the casting of Bill Murray as the title character, it was mostly met by negative reviews.
Created as a series of illustrated comic strips in 1958, and developed as a hugely popular television series in the 1980s. A live-action/CGI-animated family film adaptaton is due to be released next year.